The Temple

At first, people just laughed at the crazy man, or ignored him. He appeared to be much like many of the various freaks and mental aberrants that wandered about New York. He certainly wasn’t the first to preach loudly at passing pedestrians. He also wasn’t the first to make dire predictions.

There were, however, two things that distinguished him from most of the unbalanced rabble. The first was that, if one bothered to listen to the preaching for a while, it became apparent that instead of being fixated on the Judeo-Christian deity, he appeared to have made up some new god that no one had ever heard of before. Of course, that wasn’t a big thing, there were a few crazies who had done similar things, and it was only slightly out of the ordinary. The other distinguishing characteristic the apparent lunatic displayed was very out of the ordinary. His dire predictions came true.

Due to the fact that almost everyone ignored his rantings, it took a while for folks to notice. Relentlessly the madman would declare that Kathule, (his made-up deity), would punish the city if they did not appease him by building him a massive temple of gold and precious gems. He declared that Kathule would send a storm of great destructive power to lash the shores of the city and cause great harm. He even predicted exactly when the storm would arrive. Every day, for about a month, he counted down the days until the storm arrived.

When the hurricane battered New York and caused massive property damage, almost no one connected its arrival with his rantings. No one had been paying much attention to him. No one had been watching to see if his predictions would come true. Even when he reminded them, at the top of his lungs, that he had predicted the storm they didn’t believe him. Since they hadn’t been listening, they assumed that he was lying about having predicted the storm.

The same thing happened the next month with the huge fire that burned down nearly three blocks in one of the low rent districts.

It happened again the next month with the tornado that swept into New York from the west.

The earthquake the month after that began to get peoples’ attention. New York wasn’t supposed to have earthquakes, especially not earthquakes that did damage. Peoples nerves were rattled, (quite literally), so they began watching and listening a bit more to the crazy street preachers. When people start to get scared they are slightly more likely to listen to crazy talk.

And so it happened, that when the prophet of Kathule predicted the exact date and time of the asteroid strike, some people noticed. Some people had been paying attention this time. Of course, when they mentioned to their friends and families that this crazy street preacher had predicted the asteroid, most of their friends and families began to think that they might be going nuts too. However, there were some that were intrigued, some that actually started going out of their way just to hear what the next prediction would be.

When the flood hit New York a month later, there was a sizable group that could definitely say that the prophet had hit the date exactly. A few journalists heard and thought that this could be an interesting story, at least an entertaining little public interest piece if nothing else. People were certainly interested in reading about possible upcoming disasters. After the hurricane, the fire, the tornado, the extremely rare earthquake, the insanely rare asteroid strike, and then the flood, people were beginning to wonder. Since all the events followed one after another, with about a month between, people were starting to look for some answers. People were starting to pay attention to almost everything they heard.

Many people started to move away. But there were many who stayed, either because they didn’t have the means to leave, or they were just pure blooded New Yorkers who would rather go down with the ship than live anywhere else.

Of course, the attendance at churches and cathedrals increased dramatically. People were flocking in to repent for their sinful ways. They hoped that God would be appeased by their repentance, or that at least if the next disaster killed them they would go to heaven.

The priests and ministers could, of course, comfort the faithful – somewhat. They could reassure them that, because of their belief and obedience, God would take them into heaven. They could tell their flocks that it wasn’t their fault that the city was suffering.

A few preachers said that it was coincidence, that God wasn’t actually passing judgment on the city. They said that it was just a run of bad luck. Others blamed the innumerable sinners for the happenings. Some said that everyone needed to pray as hard as they could and ask God to spare the Big Apple.

People even began to set up special around-the-clock prayer meetings. At these meetings, there would always be someone praying. People would stay as many hours as their schedule would allow and then be replaced by others who had different schedules. The theory was that God would be especially impressed with this tag-team approach to pleading. In fact, so many people had begun to pray so much, that it appeared that the next disaster to hit New York would be a plague of bad knees.

The one thing the priests, ministers, rabbis, mullahs, and such couldn’t seem to do was help keep people safe.

When a jumbo jet plummeted into the financial district, several newspapers had contained the date, time, and place it was going to happen. People began to realize that there WAS a religious leader that could keep them safe. None of the people that had taken the prophet of Kathule seriously had died when the plane crashed. The believers that normally would have been at that location simply hadn’t been there. Unlike the faith of the Christians, Jews, Muslims and other assorted groups; the faith of the believers in the prophet had paid off. They had lived because they listened to him.

The following month, when a massive blizzard dumped 15 feet of snow on New York, there were a lot of people who were prepared. At lot of people, who probably would have either suffered or died because of such an extreme storm, had lived. They had lived because they had read the articles that all the papers in New York had begun to print about the prophet.

That next month, the prophet was no longer a crazy man preaching on a street corner. He was now a televangelist. His growing numbers of believers now included many who were rich and powerful. Many of these powerful people owned a piece of New York. They were eager to prevent the destruction of their property. Thus, they were eager to please the prophet and appease his god. So now, the prophet of Kathule preached his message on the airwaves.

The Prophet’s show appeared at several times of day, on several TV channels. You could also hear him on the radio. Of course, every news show was giving his next prediction top billing. Most of them had started some sort of special report entitled “Countdown to Doom” or “Kathule’s Wrath Watch” or some such thing.

So, when the skyscraper collapsed, there were almost no fatalities. And it became pretty obvious that the Prophet was legitimate.

The FBI was investigating, of course. They were trying to find some way to connect the “Kathulians” to the buildings collapse and the plane crash. Of course, the flood and the asteroid strike were dismissed as lucky guesses by the investigators. They had no idea how to pin those kinds of things on the growing cult.

They also had no idea how to blame the Prophet for the second earthquake the next month, or the massive hail storm the month after that.

Mainline religious leaders were in despair. Some called the Prophet a devil worshipper. They claimed he was using infernal powers to cause the destruction. Some said he was blessed with prophecy by God, but confused about from where his powers came. Some said he was a gifted psychic that had made up a false god. Some seemed to go crazy, babbling all sorts of inane things. Some just converted.

When the Prophet predicted the onslaught of an incurable plague, a plague that would sweep through the city killing 90% of the population, the authorities decided they had no choice. New York began work on the temple.

There were people opposed to it, of course. But the funding was being provided by the now quite large Kathulian religion. The authorities said that they couldn’t do anything to stop it. The Kathulians had a right to build a temple. Of course, the city authorities were extremely cooperative in changing zoning ordinances and in rushing through all the paperwork.

There were hard-core religious fanatics of several faiths who were talking about assassinating the Prophet. However, this idea was extremely unpopular, even amongst those who had not converted to Kathulianism. If the Kathule was so destructive simply because of the lack of a temple, he would surely destroy the city utterly if his prophet were killed. Besides, the Prophet had a really huge number of bodyguards now; assassinating him would be nearly impossible.

Thus it came to pass that the Prophet stood on the golden steps at the construction site of the new Temple and declared that Kathule had been appeased! The plague would not come. As long as the temple continued to be built, the city would continue to suffer nothing more serious than traffic jams and air pollution.

As the temple continued to rise it became obvious that this building would become one of the major sites in the city. This building would rival the Taj Mahal. Well, actually, it would rival the Taj Mahal in size, and definitely in cost, but not in beauty. Kathule’s instructions regarding the design of the temple made it pretty obvious that the mysterious and wrathful god was no Frank Lloyd Wright.

Architects and workmen alike boggled at the details. The way the walls were supposed to curve seemed impossible. World-class mathematicians had to be specially contracted to help with the designs. Super computers were bought to help with the necessary computer modeling.

The building would be huge and fantastic. It would be built with billions of dollars worth of precious commodities. But it was still pretty obvious that it was going to be incredibly ugly. Just looking at the computer graphics used in the design was causing people migraines.

Meanwhile, people were starting to realize that the Kathulians had some sort of religious dogma. At first, it had seemed as if the whole theology of the religion could be summed up in the statement, “Build the temple or die.” However, people began to hear rumors that the religion consisted of much more. The strange thing was, no one was quite clear on what the beliefs of the religion were.

People soon became acquainted with a rather antiquated concept in religion. The concept of a mystery religion. Back in the times before the rise of monotheism, mystery religions were actually fairly common. The actual beliefs and practices of these religions were a secret, a holy “mystery”. Only those who chose to be indoctrinated into those religions had the privilege of having the divine mysteries revealed to them. It was obvious that Kathulianism was indeed a mystery religion.

Kathulians were not standing out on street corners handing out pamphlets. They did their religious activities in private. And now that the religion had become large and powerful, it also became apparent that it was definitely not evangelical. Actual membership in the religion was by invitation only.

Of course, nonmembers were still allowed to donate to the temple. In fact, giving large donations seemed to be a really good way of getting an invitation to become a member. It became an important social status indicator. If you were rich enough, powerful enough, or famous enough, you could probably get in. It was becoming the most elite club in the world.

Rumors swarmed like flies. People speculated about the strange chanting that was sometimes heard coming from the temple. People gossiped about reports of orgies. People talked about the supposed wonders witnessed within the temple. People whispered about human sacrifice.

But no one knew for sure. Amazingly enough, none of the followers were telling tales – not even hints. There was no best selling book by a defected adherent spilling all the secrets. In fact, there were no defecting adherents. There were occasionally some missing adherents, but no defectors.

It also became apparent that, despite the number of people who had all sorts of theories they would like to publish about Kathulianism, no legitimate publishing companies were interested in a book like that. No news shows wanted to report the theories. No one in a position of power or authority wanted to talk about the theories. The temple had become too powerful, too influential, and too rich. Too many of the people who controlled the news and publishing companies were members of the temple, almost all of them. Moreover, sometimes owners of smaller publishing companies had accidents or just disappeared. Sometimes reporters vanished. Sometimes radio stations accidentally blew up.

Eventually, there was a pamphlet that became quite popular. It was passed from friend to friend. The copies of the pamphlet that were put on the Internet seemed to disappear quickly. Emails that had unencrypted copies of the pamphlet attached tended to never reach their destinations. The pamphlet seemed to have enemies, and so it started to attract attention.

The pamphlet claimed to have been originally written by a man who claimed to be a witch or a mage, (he seemed to use the terms interchangeably in the pamphlet). The writer claimed that he had known about the Prophet long before the disasters began to strike New York. The pamphlet intimated that the so-called Prophet was originally a sorcerer and an evil priest. It claimed that the “new” mystery god, Kathule, had actually been known for thousands of years. However, Kathule was only known to those that studied the darkest part of the occult. It claimed that Kathule had been known by many names, most notably Cthulhu.

The pamphlet went on to warn that the now powerful temple was a grave danger to mankind. It claimed that the purpose of the temple was to tear down the “gates” that held back “The Elder Gods”. It claimed that the “gates” that sealed in Cthulhu and his ilk were the only things that were keeping mankind from a horrible, terrifying annihilation. The “gates” held back the nightmare spawn from swarming into our world. The gates that held them in the place that somehow existed in “the spaces between”. The pamphlet was pretty confusing in some places…

It went on to say that the Prophet was no prophet. It claimed he was the most powerful sorcerer to have served Cthulhu in the known history of mankind. He had managed to summon the disasters upon New York using ancient and eldritch incantations of pure evil. The pamphlet said outright that if the “Prophet” could be killed, New York, and the rest of the world, would be safe from further destruction. If the Prophet could be killed, it would be safe to destroy the temple. It would be safe to stop the abominable rituals conducted therein; the rituals that were meant to destroy humanity.

To those who were watching, it soon became apparent that the followers of the Temple of Kathule were very concerned about the pamphlet. Lawsuits were filed by the temple to silence anyone who dared to repeat the pamphlet’s charges publicly. Anyone who was too obvious about distributing the pamphlet tended to disappear, or die in an accident. Occasionally an activist would just stop distributing the pamphlets. They would end up swearing that the pamphlets were full of lies – all the while displaying a newly found demeanor of nervousness or even outright terror.

Copies of the pamphlet were seized at borders. People who happened to be arrested by the police while carrying a pamphlet tended to be brutalized. They also tended to have all sorts of nasty contraband planted on them.

Overall, the pamphlet was, in and of itself, nothing but truly bizarre to the average person. However, it became widely seen as quite possibly true – simply due to the fact that it was so brutally repressed. Nevertheless, it never became clear that the pamphlet did much to hamper the Kathulians.

Some protests took place near the temple. Some grass roots organizations were formed to oppose the Kathulians. However, nothing larger ever emerged. The opposing movements were always hampered by terrible luck. The leaders and organizers of the movements always seemed to be plagued by cancers, tumors, heart attacks, and occasionally much nastier ailments.

While all of this happened, some people started to notice that the number of missing people in New York and surrounding areas was increasing greatly. However, the government seemed to covering the fact up.

Large trucks were often seen entering the temple’s grounds with armed escorts. A rumor began to spread that one of the trucks had crashed and a hole had been ripped in the side. The rumor claimed that witnesses had seen bound and gagged people inside. Rumors said that the trucks carried people who had been kidnapped and were being shipped to the temple as human sacrifices.

As the rumors became more widespread concerning the trucks, they mysteriously suddenly stopped coming to the temple. Suddenly, all of the vehicles entering the temple were of a type that was open to public view. This helped greatly in dispelling the rumors regarding human sacrifice. Without the trucks entering, it would be hard to sneak a large number of prisoners inside. There were, however, some new rumors regarding recently constructed tunnels into the temple…

For several years, the situation continued, with all sorts of rumors and tales spreading about the temple. All the while, the power and influence of the temple was spreading.

Then, people began to notice strange things. A strange glow was reported from a portion of the South Pacific near Antarctica. Strange lights began to appear in the sky, wildly erratic comets of great size and strange color. Odd, glowing, swirling mists covered large sections of the globe. People started seeing more “ghosts” or rather phantomish things that appeared to be the ghosts of something non-human.

Strange newspaper reports concerning a phenomenon named “Bloop” started to proliferate. Bloop was a mysterious sound that had occasionally been reported by sonar operators ever since sonar had first been employed on submarines. For years, sonar operators had speculated regarding the origin of this strange signal that seemed to be detectable from unbelievable distances. Some thought it was caused by underwater avalanches. Others theorized that it was caused by some huge sea creature that had not yet been identified, a creature of unimaginable size that would have had to dwell in the farthest abysmal depths of the oceans. Whatever the cause of Bloop was, it had recently seemed to have become much more active. The oceans of the world were echoing with the mysterious tones.

On a more human level, people seemed more prone to violence and madness. People just started to feel terrified all the time for no apparent reason.

Strange and terrifying phenomenon began to appear all around the globe. It all appeared to be heading for some type of crescendo, some manner of horrific climax.

Many people say that the climax was reached when a group of terrorists set off a nuclear device in New York City.

The perpetrators, the terrorist organization, had never been heard of before. No intelligence agency or law enforcement organization had any record of it. No one knew why it had set off the warhead. No one had any idea what its “cause” could be.

Strangely enough, the little that investigators were able to learn about it seemed to indicate it consisted mostly of old men and women who were academics and scholars.

Despite the best efforts of the FBI and CIA, there was never enough evidence found to bring anyone to trial. Moreover, the public never really bought into the idea that geriatric college professors were to blame.

At any rate, the organization never carried out any more attacks. It never made any statements regarding the reason for the attack. It never gave any other indication that it had ever existed.

After the nuclear blast in New York, the Temple was gone. The Prophet was gone. All of the most powerful Kathulians were gone. It seemed that all of the most powerful members, from all over the world, had been gathered at the temple at the time of the attack. It appeared that they were gathered for some great ritual.

With the grand Temple, the Prophet, and all of its most influential members annihilated, the Kathulian religion dried up and withered away.

Along with it went all of the strange and horrifying things that had been reported around the globe recently. The south pacific stopped glowing. The sky seemed to be behaving normally again. Perhaps most importantly, people were feeling a bit saner again.

Most people said that the nuclear attack on New York had been the climax of all of those strange and evil things. But, there were other people who did not believe this. There were a few people who knew. There were a few people who knew that the nuclear blast had actually prevented a much, much worse climax.

2 Responses to “The Temple”

  1. JJ Burke Wrote:

    Yeah!! (Or should I say “Iä!!”) I’m happy to see a relatively current site devoted to this material. So far, Eric, your stories are my favorites here. I guess I’ll just have to keep reading all of them. Maybe one day I’ll muster the creative momentum to finish one of my mythos-inspired yarns, and see if it stands up next to the fine work here. Time and the Blind Idiot will tell… but thanks for the stories!

  2. Joshua Goudreau Wrote:

    Interesting concept. The telling does seem a bit dry because of the approach to the narrative but the events of the story are enough to keep interest. Very good.

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