Appreciating the Brothers Flemion’s American underground rock classic in the voice of H.P. Lovecraft
Dear Reader: Reviewed here by Jed Smith of The Jeanines as a piece of historical prose fiction in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft. Get with it, yo. -Ed.
By God, you were right. Flemion’s journal- chronologically nearly complete and in almost perfect condition, -under the exact floorboards shown in the tintype- in the basement of his Massatiscutt cottage. I am not accustomed my summer sojourns to the North Shore being so fruitful, save for the chance to hear the the reverie of Portagee concertina and copper whistle. Yet here it is, in all its horror and glory.
Simmons, I confess that a lesser part of me- a part content to wile away my remaining years nestled in sober, soft confines a genteel urban existence, tethered to the logic of homo sapiens and the academic gentry of New England- that part of me would rather I’d never begun this unholy grail-quest into the heart of whatever obscure, cosmic madness devoured Flemion and his party, but the greater part- that part for whom experiences of maximal psycho-emotional temper and tenor are bread and butter- for whom the logic of dreams and indulgences of adventurers and rangers along the edges of human rationality and objective, Gnostic sanity are as essential as the serpent to the soil and mother’s milk for the braying bairn- that part has found contentedness- or the closest analogue available to the mad- previously unexampled in my life.
Tomorrow I travel to New Haven to pick up the Hudson line to New York, and we shall pore over the contents of this miraculous tome together.
Yours as always,
Dr. Ira Cosloy, C.A.P. Ironocosmology
Thurston- it has been too long, but presently we must sidestep all pleasantries, as I write to you with some urgency over a distressing development. As you know, our colleague and dear friend Dr. Cosloy was due in New York three days hence to discuss his recent discovery of Flemion’s journal- previously thought absentis in sempertirnum. I’d heard nothing from Cosloy until my door rang at 8’clock this morning and I was greeted by a sickly-looking man no doubt from some rustic Yankee milieu who handed me a small roughened-looking package of twine and newsprint and told me in his rhotic-agnostic idiom that it was from “Doc Ira.” When I asked, hope leaping from my quavering voice, if Ira had said anything to pass along to me, he replied, his words seeming to hypnotize him as he spoke them aloud.
“Yep, he did” he half-slurred.
“Doc Ira said ‘I’ve done drugs that would blow your mind tonight.’
I think you can imagine what the package contained. If your affection for Cosloy has not withered, I beg you come to New York as soon as is humanly possible. The mystery of Ira’s disappearance, and the tome in my possession which may hold the answers to that mystery await your dutiful prosecution.
With measured hope,
Archibald Karol Simmons, Professor of, Columbia University
From the Journal of Dr. Ira Cosloy, CAP-
30 July 1929
Out of the mist.
Twenty days hence since my party and I reached the arid scrub brush vastness of Hotkok Plateau in search of Flemion’s journal. We departed Dubrovnic on an early morning and travelled down the Dalmation coast in a single mast, as to leave as little evidence as possible of our journey and its purpose, and reentered mainland through a strange marine grove just past the Hellenic border of Albans.
A three-day journey via Roma horse and buggy brought us to the Balkan wilderness, where we boarded a private rail commissioned by our benefactor in Aix that would take us well into Eurasian climes alien to all of us save our benefactor’s emissary Corgan, a tall man of icy tempermanent whose taciturn affect and squinty grey eyes to me seemed to betray some heavy burden of dark and eldtrich knowledge more suited to a Rosicrucian than an accountant. Within a few days, we’d reached the ancient city of Rosijak, just on the outskirts of desert-like Hotkok Plateau, our ultimate destination. From there it was two days hiking to what Corgan referred to as the “abandoned dig site.”
But let me say this now under threat of the hereafter: this was no “abandoned site.” Both the site and presumably the men who toiled away to clear millennia of sand and rock off the queer structure beneath were ravaged by some force whose magnitude and intensity I scarcely can imagine by any conventional scientific measure. Nothing remained of the men but their surveying instruments and a few torn pages of a journal- mostly illegible and seemingly written in transliterated tongues during a fit of madness. Only one passage contained the remnants of any recognizable human language, but instead of being an oasis of rational thought in a desert of abject lunacy, it only heightened the sense of dread our party felt upon arriving at the eerie scene.
“…Hzzroth’ shubbaith, Yog-Sothoth Yog-Saarlac, bludda dlubbath out of the mist, there’s a priest, out of the mist, there’s a hooker jorzzo-shul, shul-Gozer n’brmmyth azurubb Zuul..”
What I felt upon reading this passage…..it is difficult to give full attention to one aspect without diminishing another- but there was terror, a dread at a level so deep it seemed to reveal an unknown self. In tow with that dread was a childlike excitement at the wonder of discovery- the promise of answers to questions no civilization had yet thought to even ask.
Strangest of all, however, was the laughter. To a man, as each of us read the passage, we laughed. A mad laugh, an unhinged guffawing laugh- but a laugh nonetheless. As if we’d come all this way and crossed untold strange lands to be greeted by the grimmest and strangest of japes ever to be made. If only we’d known it was but the opening salvo of a comedy with the most tragic of finales.
– Dr. Ira Cosloy
3rd August 1929
Straights are fools.
Third day in the tunnels. They seem to continue on forever, with endless tributaries, some shrouded in darkness, some lit as brightly as the main vein we have been travelling forward in. One of our men, a Welshman named Davies, insisted on exploring one of these sub-tunnels, and rushed forward into its blackness before I could raise any protest.
No man would follow him, so we waited, making temporary camp. Four hours passed with no sign or sound from Davies, and we were forced to move on. But later that day- or night- it can be difficult to tell without some calculation as daylight has been a stranger to us since the first few hours of our journey- we heard a distant voice calling out to us. Davies’ clipped Welsh burr (is it ‘burr’, or is that only in reference to the Scotsman’s rustic dialect?) was recognizable to us, but the tone of his voice was alien.
Betraying neither fear nor confusion, it instead contained something of the manic ebullience of a Cotton Mather or some other orator of drecky superstitions. Davies was repeating, in this fanatical mode, the same expression-
“Straights are fools.”
He may have shouted it 50 times or more, and his voice, though never growing closer, seemed to circle us at an unknown distance. Finally, he laughed- a garrulous chortle, devoid of joy and chilling to the soul. A moment after, the sound of a guitar playing a succession of melodious chords was heard, then a loud buzzing, but of a definite pitch, like an old pipe organ but cut through with a metallic, machine edge that seemed to suggest glimpses of a future too strange for the pages of a journal to describe.
Laughing again, Davies issued one further utterance:
“That was a good drum break.”
Then, silence. Queerer still, though terror was doubtless the timbre of the party, half of the men began to chuckle, their chuckles turning to belly laughter, then silence, as if they were briefly possessed by some sardonic exocosmic spirit or daemonic force.
Straights are fools.
6th August or thereabouts, 1929
Our party is reduced to four. Myself, LaChance, Corgan, Dutch, and Homestead. The past several days have been a gauntlet of fear, madness, and hysteria, with the suggestion of acts of extreme violence just outside our prevue hanging on the edges of our psyches. We are heavy and exhausted from anxieties we scarcely comprehend, and the main tunnel bears no portent of termination, nor do its tributaries, which continue to appear regularly.
One by one, we have lost men to the darkness, each following the pattern of Davies- bounding off into side tunnels without warning or consultation with the party, unheard from for hours, their voices eventually calling out in the darkness with strange words which bear the tenor of incantation and chilling bouts of laughter, followed by brief sounds of guitar, organ, and pagan-skins. Dutch, or “Dutch East” as he is fond of calling himself- has been recording the phrases called out by our lost men, each more curious than that which preceded it.
“Here comes the watermelon seed”
“Living in ecstasy land”
“I was into sports”
“Do you know where I can find a fresh pair of socks”
“Rosy Jack World”
“Thank god I died in the car crash”
Are we bedeviled, what?
8th August, 1926
The light has nearly faded. My light, the light of the world, the light of God, all seem nearly swallowed whole by the supreme darkness of this endless tomb.
Only LaChance and myself remain, though it seems the specter of some madness has been a guest at our fire for days now.
Shadows step from shadows and dance a long the curtain of dim light our meager campfire chances onto the stone walls on either side of us.
We have not proceeded forward for what seems like weeks but is likely no more than a day and a half. Yet, there is some sense that we are moving- neither forward nor backward, but in a direction only vaguely comprehensible to a human mind.
The sensation is beyond disorienting, for in the maw of this psycho-emotional chasm, the works Newtown and Euclid seem like the poetic musings of naïve children.
My dreams, when I have them, are drossy and plumed by anxieties which seem otherworldly and insurmountable. I have seen alien cities whose structures seem comprised of impossible angles and which induce the sardonic elliptical logic of a mind baked by fever- a glass of water too loud to fix one’s stare at, a moon that smells of burnt matches… and countless other indignities to human reason.
But worst of all is the music, now ever-present, thrumming with that damnable guitar sharp organ, and mad, loose drumming, over which a horribly, wonderfully pinched voice lays melodies so delicate and sweet they betray not one whit the bacchanalia and mischief of the words being sung.
Fuck that like I told you in the other story
The music seems to mock my fear, then play with it, as a kitten might a strand of twine or a dead mouse, then mock it anew. It tells me I am a child, that mankind is but a mewling infant, its anxieties nothing more than the stuff of ridicule for the ancient consciousness which stalks the blackness around us.
I know that pitchless ether beyond the light of our campfire will soon claim LaChance, and soon after that, myself, but I fear it will not satisfy its awful hunger within the confines of these tunnels, this desert, this country, for regardless of its terrible exocosmic origin, the music that beckoned it to our world sprang from the hearts of men.
It’s only right and natural.
AUDIO: The Frogs It’s Only Right and Natural (full album)