The Stalker In The Snows

The following extract is taken from the private journals of Scott William Corey, recorded from the time he worked for the Department of Natural Resources in Braving and the surrounding communities. I’m sure you’ll recognize Corey as the “Braving Butcher,” the serial killer who just recently joined the notorious ranks of the likes of Bundy, Gacy and Dahmer. Corey slaughtered, dismembered and cannibalized nearly 20 victims before being caught in the act of devouring 12-year-old Tonya Watson and was subsequently gunned down by the Braving police.
As the papers reported, nearly all of the Watson girl’s was recovered, save the foot, which was not found until after the coroner dissected Corey’s stomach during the murderer’s autopsy. What the papers did NOT say, however, was that more than 20 rounds of ammunition were pumped into the killer’s body before he finally expired, and that the thing the police riddled with bullets was only recognizeable as the body of Scott Corey after its death . . . when it reverted to its original form!

These entries, recoreed during the onset of Corey’s mental and physical abberation, may finally shed more light upon the events leading up to his death. But as in all of these accounts thus far published by the Royceton University, the events are strange indeed, and the reader is urged into a suspension of disbelief!

George Christendahl
Curator of Manuscripts
Royceton University
Braving, Minnesota

***

A shadow falls across the face of the full moon;
Evil stretches forth hungry fingers;
Ghouls dance within the depth of a sombre tomb;
Everywhere the madness lingers.
A howl of death fills the night.
Man or beast, who dines tonight?
I fear it is the Great Old One
Whom even the dreaded Black Goat shuns,
The Wolf-Thing, winged Ngirrth’lu who cries —
His bat-wings sweeping the lowering skies.

— “Cycles of the Moon”
Ronald Dunsey

***

(FROM THE PRIVATE JOURNALS OF SCOTT WILLIAM COREY, FOUND IN AN ISOLATED MINNESOTA CABIN)

***

Oct. 12: — Why they’re sending 4 of us out to catalog wolves is beyond me! CANIS LUPUS, or the Gray Wolf, is nearly extinct everywhere except in northern Minnesota and Alaska, so the DNR wants our regional office here in Braving to tag and count all the specimens we can find north of here so they can keep their eye on the population. I suppose the Alaskans are doing the same. Anyway, they’re sending myself, Jason Dahl, Ken Taylor and that new guy, Paul Lundberg. I’m sure it will be a routine job, but since I’m in the habit of keeping this journal I’ll enter whatever transpires herein, even if it will be boring. We leave tomorrow.

***

Oct. 14: — Well, we loaded all our gear, including the .22 rifles and trank darts and a couple of 30.06’s (just in case) into a Chevy Blazer and hit the road. Soon the plowed, paved roads turned into ice-covered dirt roads, and about 170 miles from Braving they became muddy snow-trails. At the end of one of these we struck out into unforaged forest and began our work.

We set up camp in a valley in order to shield our tents from the freezing, biting wind, and set out on foot tracking the wolves. I can tell they’re definitely in danger of exinction: in past years I saw scores of them up here, but now we’re lucky if we find 5 a day!

***

Oct. 17: — I was right — it is boring work. But at least we haven’t met any hostile Indians yet (this far north, I’m not even sure if they’ve heard of the Treaty!). Basically, we’ve just been sitting around getting to know one another. Taylor and Dahl are both ex-Army men, so they track together most of the time (and tell old Army stories, I’ll bet!). Lundberg, my partner, is ex-military too, but he’s definitely got the most interesting sideline job of us all: he’s an armchair archaeologist and occultist! He also writes horror stories for the genre magazines and anthologies. I told him I ocasionally wrote articles for WILDLIFE JOURNAL and HUNTER’S QUARTERLY, but would like to try my hand at fiction one day (Maybe even the comic books . . . I always did enjoy the adventures of Jack Russell in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, for one!).

***

Oct. 19: — Today something finally happened. And I wish to God it hadn’t. Taylor had dropped an especially large and beautiful wolf, and Dahl had raced forward to tag it when it rolled over and snapped its jaws on his hand! It struggled savagely to pull free, crashing full-force into Taylor’s chest and knocking the wind out of him. It loped off, but not before Taylor somehow managed to get the tag through its ear. Dahl’s hand is smashed, and raw and bloody, several broken bones, and he needs medical attention urgently. One finger was nearly chewed off . . . .

Lundberg and I are going to get the supplies from the secondary camp while Taylor watches over Dahl at the main camp. The Blazer’s been acting up so setting out on foot. Should be back in a few hours. Then we’ll head back to Braving.

***

Later: — My God! I can hardly force my horror-numbed fingers to write of the events which transpired since my last entry! Lundberg and I had struck the secondary camp and we were just a few yards from the main camp when we heard the gunning of the Blazer’s engine. It was being floored and the gears were grinding something fierce. Rounding the hill of the valley we saw in the midst of the camp the Blazer tires spinning over and over something, grinding it flat before driving off into the sparse woods to the north of camp. When we reached the spot we saw the bloody pulped ruin of all that remained of Ken Taylor.

Grief-stricken, we said a few words of prayer over his body, and then buried our friend in the frozen ground.

We’ve decided to pursue Dahl, although to help him or to bring Taylor’s killer to justice, I’m not sure. We go on foot, dragging our gear in a makeshift sledge, following the bloody tire-tracks which clearly stand out in the pure white snow . . . .

***

Oct. 20: — Christ! At first I wrote in this journal simply to record the events that transpired, but now I find I’m writing to convince myself of the REALITY of the events! We followed the tracks onto an expansive plain of smooth white snow, the wind moaning mournfully in our ears, beating mercilesly against our parkas and whipping our scarves about our faces. We soon spied something dark and blotchy up ahead. When we drew closer we saw that we were walking over the surface of a frozen lake, for the Blazer stood before us, its body bottomed-out in icy water and the driver’s side door standing wide open. Hearing a thashing sound from across the lake, we turned to see a dark figure scrabbling fiercely onto the shore. Using Lundberg’s binoculars, we saw that we were mistaken in our notion that it was Dahl, for it was just a large gray wolf. Yet Dahl’s footprints led this way, so we followed.

***

Later: This is madness! Why do Dahl’s footprints change shape? Do we follow a man . .. or a wolf?

***

Oct. 22: — We’ve been following Dahl’s (or whatever THING he’s become — how can a man walk in this snow without snowshoes or even regular shoes — BARE-FOOTED?) footprints for days now. We’ve talked of turning back, but still we push on. Still, I feel we are drawing closer to our ultimate destination. Dahl’s tracks passed between two cyclopean trees the size of redwoods and set about 100 yards apart. Wondering what kinds of trees these could be way up here in the frozen north, we pitched our tents and examined them more closely.

They were tall, cylindrical trunks, without tops or branchs, covered over with at least half a foot of ice and snow. They looked man-made, like monstrous totems. We chipped the ice off of a section of one with no little difficulty and saw to our surprise that they WERE totems of some sort — but of no Indian tribe known to this Earth!

Lundberg was excited to no end. He said the glyphs etched beneath the snow and ice were somewhat akin to markings in the pre-human YALITH SCROLLS and the extra-galactic XITHU SHARDS, and he borrowed my journal in order to sketch a rough copy of them for later study. It was about then that we first became aware of the sound we had been hearing subconsciously all along. The pillars gave off a faint hum like the nearly inaudible buzz of some great subterranean machinery. And, too, we saw that where all around us was still, on the other side of the Gateway (for Gateway Lundberg said it surely was) was falling snow — and it was a snow, drifting down and blanketing the ground, of A REDDISH HUE! We pass through the Gateway . . . .

***

Oct. 23: — We are in the ‘Ykia, Land of the Red Snows, so Lundberg tells me. But he refuses to divulge anything further. Says I’ll call him crazy but if I did I think I’d have to certify myself for the looney-bin as well from what I’ve seen here! Still, he seems a curious mix of excitement and apprehension. I can understand the apprehension all too readily, for it seems as if we have passed into another world! There are certain strange DIFFERENCES here, hard to pinpoint but noticeable nevertheless. For instance, I feel as if I am constantly being watched, and out of the corner of my eye I keep seeing things that disappear before I can turn my gaze full upon them. Also, the air feels thicker, more soupy . . . and where does this damned red snow come from anyway! We still follow Dahl, but now something follows us as well! We can’t see it, but we often hear its heavy lumbering footsteps, especially near nightfall. By the sound of it, it’s HUGE!

Having exhausted our food rations, we’ve been attempting to hunt our own food, despite the flora and fauna’s slightly alien nature. We shot an elk (at least, I THINK it was an elk — it looked DIFFERENT . . .) and it rolled down off the top of the hill on the opposite side from us. When we reached it we found its skeleton picked clean, and we thought we could hear a nervous tittering from somewhere nearby. But we saw nothing. Maybe the hunger is making us hallucinate . . . .

***

Sometime later: — Lost track of time in this alien environment. So hungry can barely walk. Or write. Still tracking Dahl. Big black structure on hill ahead — looks like mausoleum. Fitting . . . .

***

A day later: — Oh God! Oh mundane God of a sane, ordered world! I cannot, I DO NOT believe this! Yet it is happening. Out here, in the wilds of Minnesota — MONKS! This black abbey is attended by 6 monks — dwarfish and Asiatic or Mongoloid in appearance! They took us in, as they evidently had Dahl, and fed us bread and cheese. And though the cheese was slightly rancid and the bread a little stale, we wolfed it down gratefully.

But our gratitude was short-lived, for they imprisoned us in a dungeon below the abbey. They put Lundberg and I together in a cell. Don’t know if Dahl’s here, however.

***

A day later: — They led us upstairs in chains to meet with the abbot. He was taller than the others, turbaned and saturnine-visaged, with thick mane of coal-black hair and a goatee and red bloodshot eyes. He spoke with a thick French accent, and only a few of his words were intelligible to me. Lundberg asked about Dahl, but received only a withering glare.

After the interview they led us to their dining room for a late repast. I’m afraid I was a bit too put off by their rather odious eating habits to have much of an appetite. The meat seemed rather bloody and under-cooked, and the crimson wine tasted a bit strange for my liking. But I did pick at the bread and cheese. Lundberg didn’t eat much either, but those dwarfish little monks dug into their meal like it was their last ever! I’ve never seen such savage, wolfish behavior! And all the while the abbot merely smiled and looked on.

They keep us locked up and seem to have their own plans for us. They serve a god here, judging by their frequent unintelligible chantings, but I’m fairly sure it’s not the benevolent God of our own ordered world but instead a chaotic mocking travesty of that god.

***

Two days later: — Lundberg finally revealed to me what’s been on his mind the last few days. What he finally said was so incredible that I could scarcely believe it. Yet something in his tone, together with the proof of the impossible happenings thus far of this whole hellish experience, convinced me to listen.

It was all so confusing and mind-numbing, and went so far against the grain of all I had come know so far in this world that I wrote it all down in order to better understand it. I checked the spellings with Lundberg as he proceeded, and I transcribe it here for the reader:

“I suppose you’ve never heard of Cthulhu or Tsathoggua or Yig? No, well, I’ve studied ancient, restricted books on this subject at the University of Nyingtove in O’Khymer, Oregon, where I’m originally from. These beings exist, as do countless others, as part of what’s most often known as the Cthulhu Mythos, named after the chief Priest-God of these entities, the monstrous Cthulhu. But the entities of which I wish to discuss exist in a more-or-less separate pantheon side-by-side with the Cthulhu Mythos, known as the Lu-Kthu Mythos. Now, I’m not sure on all of the details, and Professor Carter Linwood’s DEVIL-GODS OF THE LU-KTHU MYTHOS could definitely tell you more, but roughly, the story is this:

Long ago, in ages so ancient as to be virtually unthinkable, this pantheon of gods was spawned by something known as Lu-Kthu, but whether this unspeakable name signifies an entity or a star or a nebula of mist, none are certain. THE RITUALS OF GLAA-DITH tells us that it is neither one of these, but it has the characteristics of all three, whatever that means!

First-born of the pantheon were the chief Outer Gods, Haiogh-Yai the Outsider, Gi-Hoveg, the Aether-Anemone and Xa’ligha, the Master of Twisted Sound. Haiogh-Yai took for his abode the wandering Blackhole known in the Elder Lore as Vix’ni-Aldru. Xa’ligha dwells in Dissonance, whatever that crypic phrase alludes to, and no one can say just where Gi-Hoveg dwells, though some say he exists everywhere!

Next in the pantheon came the lesser gods known as the Great Old Ones, along with their servitor races. But perhaps far more terrible than the Outer Gods were the Great Old Ones, for whereas the Outer Gods are indifferent to all, the Great Old Ones are definitely malignant!

THE WHISPERS OF ALTUAS tells us that these Great Old Ones, all these entities and more, stalked that primal island-continent in Earth’s dawn-ages. Their ranks include the terrible twins and immortal enemies, B’gnu-Thun the Ice-God and Ruhtra Dyoll the Fire-God; the earth elementals, Shuy-Nilh the Devourer in Darkness and Dygra the geodic, jewel-facetted, semi-crystalline Stone-Thing.

The Y’LLA CHANTS tells us that Y’lla the titanic tentacled Sea-Worm shares the sea with his sibling, the bi-sexual Vhuzompha, who is both mother and father to all marine life; and there are many others, such as Xirdneth, the Maker of Illusion and Volgna-Gath, the Keeper of the Secrets; Vulturine and raptorial Ragnalla, the Seeker in the Skies and reptilian and saurian Dythalla, the Lord of Lizards. And, of course, let us not forget the seductive sisters, sylvan Lythalia the Forest-Goddess and the Mistress of Darkness, feline Istasha, of whom the disquieting KQATT MANUSCRIPTS tells us was worshipped in the great Halls of Ulthar, as well as in the temples of the Altuan cities of Amas-Nath, Xammad and Ibtand. And as I’ve said, there are still more unholy additions to these blasphemous, daemonic ranks.

But as I was saying, these Great Old Ones were a malign race of beings. They came to our own humble sphere long ago — long before the advent of man himself — and ruled over the Earth in a long and terrible reign. And in the secret places of the Earth AND OTHER SPHERES, some still do! But the main force of the Great Old Ones was checked by a rival omnipotent race of beings, the Elder Gods. They blasted the Great Old Ones were they found them and imprisoned them in countless sundry places: in sunken sea-tombs, in vast subterranean caverns, on dark, barren planets. They imposed upon these deathless beings a semblance of death, a trance-like state of sleep, and sealed them in their tombs with the aid of a star-sigil known as the Elder Sign or Prisoning Star. Little more was revealed in the Elder Lore concerning these wards or guardians, the Elder Gods, save that they were a race of beings or forces so vastly powerful that even the incomprehensible power of the Great Old Ones themselves was like that of the merest children in comparison!

No one knows what happened to the Elder Gods: their magic or science — or whatever! — faded or simply withdrew once more until it seemed as if these great beings had ceased to exist. But how could gods of gods die? The Great Old Ones were said to be immortal; surely the Elder Gods would be that much more so? For, was it not said in Alhazred:

‘That is not dead, which can eternal lie, And with strange eons even death may die.’

Anyway, for whatever reason, the Elder Gods’ power is waning and that of the Great Old Ones is waxing again. As it is written in the LITANIAE AD DEUM FRACEUM:

‘ . . . ‘Tis said the Great Old Ones shall again return, to enjoy Dominion over all They survey. And the time approaches swift, the Cycle hath come Full Circle . . .’

Several of the Great Old Ones have already broken free, and many more shall certainly follow. But will the Elder Gods help us if they should ALL break free?

I know it all seems confusing to one who’s heard it for the first time, but all of this has to do with the being I wish to speak of, so thanks for bearing with me.

Ngirrth’lu, the Stalker in the Snows, is told of in THE SKY-FATHERS, an ancient treatise of a long-extinct and little-known Indian tribe known as the Kaygeema Indians, who inhabited northern Minnesota long ago. They knew him as Na-girt-a-lu, or He-Who-Hunts. Jacques LeCoutre of ancient Averoigne wrote much on him in his LE LIVRE DU LOUP-GAROU. He tells us that the Wolf-Thing was imprisoned by the Elder Gods in a parallel dimension bordering upon our world known as ‘Ykia, Land of Red Snows. Ngirrth’lu ruled the forests of old, and had for his worshippers and servitors a race of wolf-men known as the Lupine Ones. LeCoutre goes on to suggest that Ngirrth’lu chooses the Lupine Ones by cursing them with lycanthropy, and says that the ancient god is likely responsible for all the werewolf legendry found the world over. I don’t know if this is true, of if it is, just how far-reaching Ngirrth’lu’s Curse may be, but I do believe that that this selfsame black abbey we presently find ourselves in is consecrated to the Stalker in the Snows, and I’m convinced that the monks are themselves the Acolytes of Ngirrth’lu!”

My head reeled. I was dazed. Not knowing what else to say, I asked what this Ngirrth’lu was supposed to look like. He replied:

“There are a few woodcuts in LeCoutre’s book: he is often depicted as a towering wolf-creature standing upright on man-like haunches, great wolf-like muzzle agape with huge fangs. Giant bat-like wings fan the air. Well, you can see by my description that I really am a fiction-writer. Old habits die hard.

I think they plan to sacrifice us to the Wolf-Thing, for I fear that soon the stars may be right for Ngirrth’lu’s return. I just pray to the Elder Gods that neither of our sacrifices are fated to be the Ultimate Sacrifice told of in the Elder Lore — the one ordained to finally release the Great Old One from its prison!

***

Near the End: — Last night I dreamed that they took my friend off to become the Ultimate Sacrifice to Ngirrth’lu, to be snapped up and rended in the fearsome jaws of that unspeakable Wolf-Thing, and when I awoke Paul Lundberg was gone from the cell. They came for me then too, but I fought back. I cracked one’s skull with my chains and garrotted the other in my manacles until he at last gave up the key. Just then, the first monk regained his feet, blood dripping into his face. I kicked him in that face, then locked them both in before they could gain the cell door.

I began searching for an exit to this abominable pit of Hell. The first passageway I took led me deeper and deeper into the bowels of that accursed black abbey until I came to a huge room, obviously a cathedral of unholy worship. Here were hung tapestries depicting unnameable horrors and sculptures of unknown abominations adorned the room like silent, brooding gargoyles awaiting their prey. Scattered upon a table were alembics and wands and scrolls, and various other relics of sorcery. And upon a podium sat a ponderous, worm-eaten tome. The spine read SORCERIE DE DEMONOLOGIE. But dominating the center of the room was a huge circular pit covered by a thirty-foot diameter iron-gratinged disc with a star-motif in its center. Despite my haste to escape that abominable vault I felt myself drawn irresistable to the pit. I looked down through the grating and screamed.

My scream must have alerted the other monks, for I heard running footfalls pounding my way. I dove into the passageway. I began to run in the opposite direction than that which I had come — hopefully toward the stairs leading upward. I found the stairs, just as the monks found me. I fought them in desperation. Drawing a fish-scaling knife hidden in my boot, I charged headlong up the wide stone steps. I met one of my assailants halfway up, and gutted him with a long, vicious belly-stroke. As he rolled off the steps to the floor far below, I opened up another’s jawline. Then, I was through them.

I flew madly up the remainder of the stairs and charged through the vast corridors, until I at last gained the foyer. But I didn’t find my exit from those charnel pits unchallenged, for there before me loomed the abbot!

He seemed to grow before my very eyes, and his face took on an even more daemonic appearance as he began to change: he sprouted tufts of coarse, gray fur; his jawline began to elongate, making room for the huge fangs which began their emergence; claws ripped forth from his fingertips, and his torso itself began to stretch until it resembled that of an animal — a wolf! One more thing caught my gaze before I uttered a final scream of terror and flung myself headlong through a stained-glass window, to fall to the icy, blood-red snow below. For in changing from human to Lupine One — for this he surely was! — the abbot’s turban came loose from his head, and beneath his garment on the side of his head I could plainly make out THE TAG SLICING BLOODILY THROUGH HIS EAR!

***

I don’t know how I made it out of that accursed land of ‘Ykia, but I thank the gods (surely I can no longer believe in just one God, in light of all I experienced!) I was able to find this cabin here in the remote wilds of Minnesota. It was a simple matter to break in, and inside I found food and ammo, for which I’m grateful because I’m sure they followed me. Their eerie howls surround the cabin.

But my respite is short-lived. I have profaned the temple of Ngirrth’lu with my very presence, and surely my end will not be long in coming. I know not what form that end will take, but only that it WILL come. The Great Old Ones will not be denied! Perhaps I’ll take a few of the things with me . . . .

***

The End: — Today I killed my friend, Jason Dahl. I know now that it was not his fault that he became murderous, but the fault of the Curse of Ngirrth’lu passed down to him in the bite from the abbot of the black abbey. It is quite a shock to shoot a wolf and see it revert to the body of a dead friend. And it is even more unnerving to see a wolf you are about to shoot rear up on its hind legs and rush at you! So now the Curse has once again passed on, from Dahl to myself, for in my shock I was mauled before I could kill him. It took 7 point-blank shots to stop him. And, yes, two of those other wolves had mostly now-healed injuries exactly like those I had dealt out to the Acolytes of the black abbey.

I can no longer stomach any of the tinned meats stored in the pantry of the cabin — I long for something . . . FRESHER. At least I know now what form my end will take. And I know, too, what was imprisoned in the depths of that black abbey, in a semblance of death imposed upon it by the Elder Gods. I say was, for when I looked down into that pit I saw that the Prisoning Star had been broken, and the crypt was empty!

Ngirrth’lu was . . . IS . . . free!

***

The Beginning: — Having laid down this journal I must retire to bed. The new Priest of Ngirrth’lu must get some sleep, for there is a full moon tonight and the hunt will be long . . . .


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