Some Thoughts on the Problem of Order

1. In which a question is put to the Ecumenical panel on Religious Outreach.

‘Have you ever considered the problem of Order?’ the audience member asked.

The chairman scowled and moved his hunchbacked body, ‘Something of an old chestnut surely; in these post-modern days. Still no doubt it is worth a moment of our time. Ephod Henrickson of the Starry Wisdom Church, how would you respond?’

The narrow jawed man in black smiled. ‘We all agree, I’m sure, whatever our doctrinal differences that, by definition, Azathoth wills only chaos – and yet from that Ultimate will to chaos, it is clear that some ‘order’ results. Two and Two does usually equal Four. The Lion does not as a rule mate with the Lamb. Cause and Effect have their common meanings. Thus some argue, either Azathoth is not wholly Chaotic, or He is not Omnipotent. The former is a blasphemy against His Nature, the latter a blasphemy against His Power. That in a nutshell is the so-called ‘problem of order’. But, I believe the problem falls away if it is once seen that the embrace of utter chaos, unstained by any pinch of order would be itself a form of order. Azathoth is, metaphorically, larger than mere chaos and His Glory is seen when His Hand is withheld as profoundly as when It is At One’s Throat. Bishop Marsh, would you agree?’

‘Most ah certainly, mwah yes. Early man, unable to grasp the fact that there can be localised low-entropy events even within a universe that inexorably moves towards a state of maximum entropy, categorised such events as ‘orderly’ or ‘good’ and saw in them evidence for a non-existant active force associated with such states. To our ancestors it was natural to ask, if the Gods sleep, who imposed their sleep upon them?. But sleep when the stars are wrong is a natural cycle of the Gods. It is not external and imposed, but demanded by the nature of the Godhead, which is to permit those periods of anticipation in which faith is tested and made strong, and in which the, ah, appetite for the living is renewed. The Gods gratify themselves with sleep, that they may be wakened by Their Followers and rejoice. Their High Priest Cthulhu sleeps in imitation of them.’

‘So you don’t accept the possibility that there could be Elder Gods?’ the man in the audience insisted.  ‘A force that makes the Gods cower in Their Tombs?’.  He wore mirrored sunglasses, an a military cut leather coat like many of the campus posers did, but his face was ruddy rather than fashionably gothick, and he winced as if his eyes hurt under the shades.

Henrickson pinched his nose as at a bad smell. ‘The Elder Gods made me do it. How banal that sounds. However I would not want to reject the force of The Elder Gods as a metaphor for humanity’s, and other’s, failings and intransigences. When we have done less Evil than we should, do we not pray, as with Shakespeare’s Malcolm, ‘Unmerciful Powers release in me those forces which nature gives way to in repose’ and is it not poetically right that our backwoods associates should continue to chant ‘From Nodens and Angels and Heavenly Beasties, Dark Lord deliver Us’.

‘The more I hear of modern preachifying, the less I’m sure I set well with it,’ the third panellist snapped. His name tag, identified him as Pasteur Hoaeg of the Fourth Reformed Outer Church of Nebraska. ‘Maybe I don’t have the book-learnin’ of these gentlemen, and I reckon’ maybe I was raised one of their backwoods associates. But I ain’t a going to rule out what the Black Book itself teaches, nor what I learned on my mother’s knee. The Necronomicon says: ‘Then Were They Bound By The Sign Of Mnar’, when it speaks of Great Cthulhu an’ his kin, and we call that there sign, the Elder Sign in all tradition and faith. That being so, I reckon’ the Elder Gods do exist, and tremble when they think of the Comin’ Day when the Great Old Ones and the Outer Gods will be ‘venged ‘pon them. Furthermore until that Dread Day, ain’t it our livin’ duty to stamp out any such deluded souls as might be drawn into the schemes of the Elder Gods, and do we not play into their hands by suggesting that only human weakness is our enemy.’

‘Pasteur Hoaeg, takes a more fundamentalist approach to these matters, and in a very real sense I applaud it,’ Henrickson, said, ‘but there’s every difference in the world between accepting the existence of a folk tradition and demanding that that tradition be in every respect literally true. What matters is that we retain our faith in Our Dread Masters, anything that bolsters that faith, be it hatred of the Elder Gods or hunting their supposed human pawns, is in itself worthy. Anything that detracts from that faith, as it might be a false attribution to a stone, or to a supposed Elder God of any real sustainable capacity to stand against the forces from Outside, must be a danger.’

The chairman nodded, ‘Well I think we’re broadly in agreement there. What do you feel about the panelists responses, Mister…?’

‘I feel, they need a demonstration of the existence of the Elder Gods…’ The man pulled a shot-gun from under his long leather coat. ‘Now this is loaded with pulverised star-stones of Mnar. If it‘s just powdered stone, I guess the panelists are going to get a bit of a stingin’ But if its blessed by forces equal but opposite to their Gods, then maybe it’ll do more than sting.’ [Cries of ‘stop him’, and ‘Ia! Nodens’.  A shot gun blasts, twice. There is at least one inhuman howl.]

2. In which the police consider the scene.

Precinct Chief Mendoza, had come up the ranks from the Temple District in Red Hook, New York, but he’d never seen anything like this.

‘Three important clerics, murdered at a modern university’s celebration of a noted religious popularist,  Azathoth damn it, it’s like something out of C. S. Lewis!  Have forensic reported yet?’

Officer Daniels had been on the walkie-talkie to the Dean Halsey Memorial Hospital, were the bodies had been taken.  Members of the Hospital faculty and Nathaniel West, the police medical examiner had been up most of the night, trying to make sense of the wounds.  All Daniel could do was recount their findings.

‘The bodies have been sort of eaten up from the inside. There’s some kind of  inorganic crystalline residue, but judging from the effect they’re citing everything from anthrax to some sort of radioactive toxin.  You don’t think there could be anything in this Noden’s cult, stuff, chief?’

‘Not if the identity of the killer checks out.  He was torn to bits by the crowd of course – the worshippers of three of the most popular Elder Churches don’t sit still when their rectors take a whuppin.  The medics saved some bits.  Weird eyes, drug ridden maybe.’

Mendoza sniffed, he was no respecter of religion, Daniels knew.  Oh he paid the lip service, that holding public office demanded of a man in the Necronomicon Belt of the US, but Daniels doubted that the man had ever attended a single sacrifice.  Nevertheless, his men would have followed him to R’yleh and back.

‘We still managed to get his wallet mostly intact,’  Mendoza growled.  ‘According to that, he’s an ex-patient of the City Sanitarium, out on release into the community.  Just a sicko who wasn’t taking his tablets.  No conspiracy, nothing to see.  No doubt that’s how the Churches will want to play it.’

Daniels, considered, ’You mean you do think there is something to this Nodens Cult, boss?’

‘Ah, who knows.  Why do the Thirteenth Tribe Of Israel, and the followers of Shuddr’ml blow themselves up tussling over the City of the Pillars.  I guess if he believed it, then there’s something in it, eh? Daniels.  So here’s what you’re going to do.  You’re going to get yourself over to the Arkham City Sanitarium and you’re going to get yourself committed.’

‘Holy Cthulhu, chief, on what grounds?’

‘You put that amusing ‘you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps’ poster up in the precinct house, didn’t you, Daniels?  Well I guess your witty bluff has just been called.  Tell them that you were scared by a vision of night-gaunts as a child.  Tell them you’ve got doubts about Great Cthulhu. Tell them your complexes mean you can’t bring yourself to dress up as your mother and knife showering co-eds for all I care, but get yourself into that Asylum!’

3  In which Officer Daniels Resorts To A White Lie.

Doctor Theophobe steepled his fingers and looked at Daniels through horn-rimmed glasses whose lenses seemed made of frost.

‘Forgive me, but most people seeking to commit themselves to our care, at least have the common human decency to leave a trail of dismembered corpses.  I hardly think you’re trying.  What was it now?’   He tapped a boney finger on his pencil scratched notes.  ‘A general feeling of being a bit fragile, yes?  A thickening of the skin, and lasitude in the hours of noontide.  A certain icthyic development of the cranium?  Well you’re a trifle old, but maybe this will help.’   He pushed a leaflet from a grenny brown pile across the black ebony surface of the desk.

‘So You’re Going To Change: Life Under The Sea by A. Deep One,’   Daniels read, flushing slightly.  ‘No!’ he shouted, ‘Um, er not that there’s anything wrong with, um, you know, fishyness.  Very nice I’m sure for those that like it, er are born with it.’

He felt the blood surging in his face like a red tide.  By the Black-Teats of Astarte, he’d have Mendoza for this.

‘So what exactly is your problem, young man?  Only the Asylum dramatic society is meeting to work on our performance of 1001 Days of Sodom and I was hoping to get some first class buggery in before the light goes.’

‘Right, um’.  This was it, something outre, something commit-worthy, and yet at the same time something that would let him roam around and talk to the other inmates, without getting him trussed up.  ‘I’ve been hearing voices.’

‘Mi-go, Ghast, Termagant, or Shadmock?’

‘I’m not sure.’

‘Is it electrical with a hint of artificiality, or a booming like a moose bellowing down an infinitely long tube?’

‘Er no, not really’.

‘Does it whisper an endless stream of priapic obscenities?’

‘No.’

‘Pity we could all do with a laugh, I take it it’s basically then an uncanny flesh-shredding whistle with occasional overtones suggestive of speech but incapable of being comprehended by mortal ears?’

‘No, it’s ah singing.’

‘Singing?’   The Doctor looked, pleased and reached for what Daniels took to be a standard reference work.  Yes, he was right he could see the gold leaf title Chanson de Vermis, and the authenticating seals of the Outer Church.  ‘Is there perhaps?’  The Doctor’s fat tongue (black) licked his puffy lips (red), ‘a sensation of, ah, flute music.’

Daniel nodded.

Theophobe turned to a black edged page, whose words were writ in gold and silver.

‘A feeling of nausea, and of compression, as if a weight that could distend the universe was lowering itself gradually onto your body from all sides?  A sound like the cacophonic night-call of a million toads.’   There was a glint of something rolling behind the frost now.  Eyeballs blue irised and leering.  ‘And perhaps a faint but unmistakable scent of lavender?’

‘What?’

‘Ah, so no cross over to the olfactory as yet, good good.  Well Mr Metcalfe, I think you should consider yourself very lucky, very lucky indeed.  Many people would consider themselves honoured to be on the point, the cusp, the very, ah, threshold of the experiences that await you.  I will be happy to offer you the run of the halls.  You may want to’  – he paused –  ‘interact with the other patients gradually, they’re likely to be jealous at such an advanced case.’  He frowned, ‘we also have some, well, perversely inclined inmates.’  His black lips puckered with distaste, ‘altruists, atheists, christians.  Deluded fools who can not stand to acknowledge the true reverberant blackness of the abyss of nature.’

‘Any Nodenics?’

Daniel could see he might have overstepped the mark.

Theophobe hunched his white coated frame forward,  ‘if that’s your, ah, bag, you might want to consider discussing it with our Professor Snipsavour,  something of an expert in the viler blasphemies.  I can recommend aversion therapy most highly, particularly if you’re about to enter the Lavender Zone of the Ghooric Rite.  You wouldn’t want any, nasty, sordid, nodenic stain on your psyche before going before the Ten Thousand Presences.  And now I really must be about my rest period time.  All work and no, ah, play makes for a dull life you know, dear boy.’

4  In which Professor Snipsavour Propounds A Popular Thesis.

The Professor, surprised Daniel in two ways.  She was a woman, and she was dressed as a nun of the Catholic Heresy.

The chain-smoking and the whip, he took as normal for a modern psychotherapist, and the gimp masked and silent men he assumed to be patients, but the perverse icons of a discredited and almost forgotten faith, made him wonder if Arkham’s high reputation for being at the forefront of medical science was in any way deserved.  It was positively European in its old world decadence.

Her voice and hair were honey.  ‘You saw that old fraud, Theophobe then?  What did you tell him?’

Daniel stuttered through his symptoms.

‘All lies of course, you bad bad man.  You’re no more an pre-initiate of the Ghooric Rite than Rupert there is a good shag.’

One of the gimp masked men, shuffled.  Snipsavour pouted, ‘oh he’s sulking now.  But he’ll never master basic dominance and submission theory with that attitude.  He’s not getting to grips with it at all.  You wouldn’t mind fucking him in the mouth for me would you, just as a step in the right direction?   No?  At least help me on with this strap-on.   The police took a far harder line in my young days.  I blame this rising permissiveness.   The Elder Gods indeed, Nodens, I ask you.  Before it all ends we’ll be ‘being nice to people’.  It’s inhuman.’  She shuddered.  ‘Life is sex and blood and death. It’s self-evident: but the followers of the weakling, failure Gods, deny this and seek to justify their own personal inadequacies in the invented perversions of nature, such as ‘marriage’, ‘fidelity’ and ‘unpolymorphous perversion’.   Isn’t that so Rupert?’

‘I don’t think he can answer you with his mouth full,’  Daniel said cooly.  If the therapists of the Asylum were as concerned about a nodenic revival as all this, clearly there might be something in it.   He unzipped his flies, ‘oh well, while I’m here, may as well make myself useful.’

It was exhausting, if exhilarating work, to assist in the breaking down of unhealthy inhibitions and complexes, and Daniel was beginning to wonder if he hadn’t missed a vocation in the psychomedical field in becoming a policeman, but after a while Snipsavour,  pulling his earlobe hard so her lips came into contact with it, whispered: ‘You want the strange old man in Ward X.’

As Daniel turned to leave, she shouted over the general background noise of the panting, ‘when he came his eyes were brown!’

5 In which an elderly inmate discloses an unexpected secret.

‘You, see, it is quite simple.  It was all changed, in a twinkling. They turned the tables on us, you know.  We simply underestimated their hatred. Oh it burned.’

‘Whose hatred?,’ Daniel probed, trying to cut through the patient’s ramblings.

‘Oh, all of them.  Cthulhu, Hastur, Shudr’ Ml,  Akor-Akktu,  Nylathatep.  It was the effect of the imprisonment you see.   Richard Lovelace was more right than he knew when he wrote: “Stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage: mind’s innocent and quiet take, them for a hermitage.”  We never understood them, and so we offered them hermitage, and they having minds neither quiet nor innocent perceived only a prison, and so they became, what is the phrase, ‘institutionalised’.’

Daniel sighed.  So this was the nodenic creed at its core – the filth that had made a man take a gun and blow away respected Churchmen – a ragged madman with a straggly beard, strapped to a stained bed, talking to him about ‘institutionalising’ the Gods. Besides, he’d done some history courses, hadn’t the 17th century poet Lovelace written ‘“Stone walls a perfect prison make as iron builds a cage: mind’s innocent therein do break, as sand before a wave.”  Something like that he was sure.

‘So you imprisoned the Gods, and they resented it?’  Daniel found it had to imagine the Gods, whether he really believed in them or not, locked up by this urine-stained grandfather, still the notes at the bed’s foot hat confirmed what Snipsavour had finally implied.  This was the asylum’s prize ‘worst case’ : nodenic and unrepentant despite the finest ECT treatment available: the incontinent, fountain-head of the killer’s warped credo.  The one the killer had listened too.  Just like Daniel was, now.

‘Yes.  They resented it madly, eternally, without respite – for they could not see that they were set aside not in despite but to permit them to learn and grow within themselves.  Instead they learned only to hate and to twist and tear, and so when the stars became right for them to join their fellow Elder Gods, they rose up not as the knight arising from his vigil, but as the beast approaching its prey.’

‘And then what?  They ripped your heads off?  You look well on it.’  ‘They ripped, as you say, our heads off. They ripped our hearts out.  They ripped the world entire apart and put it back built in the image of their own desire.’  Daniel, found the old man’s halting voice, growing fainter as it was, curiously compelling, and he leaned closer to the bed.  ‘They imprisoned us, they imprisoned even me.’

The old man’s eyes were blue-veined sightless marbles.

‘You know me, Daniel’.

‘I didn’t tell you my name!’

‘You tell it with your movement through space-time, you carry it with you from the dark font of your Outer Church.  The stain they placed on your soul, identifies you.  Do you not see that they always intended you for the lion’s den?’

Daniel found his hands on the old man’s thin cold throat.  Choking his ravings into silence.  And yet the voice continued in his head.  Calm, reasonable, immeasurably old.

‘I am I.  I am Nodens.  I ride the half-shell pulled by white and ethereal horses. This body.  This building.  This world are the prisons the Old Ones built for me in their revolt against the peace I offered them.  Do you not see the vilenesses they have let out of their own veins into the waters of the world’s heart’s blood?  All good in you stands in spite of them.  They have built you a world of horror, and mankind has made its heart at home in it, and yet man still builds order, and his true heart cries out for release.’

‘Yeah, right,’  Daniels muttered, ’I’ve got your release right here, old man.’  He jammed his thumbs into the scrawny chicken-neck and pressed harder. Mendoza would be glad to avoid paperwork on this one.   When the voice stopped finally, it wasn’t until bones had snapped under his hands.

6. In which a job well done is justly rewarded.

‘What can I say, Daniel?  The Outer Churches seem convinced that you’ve stopped this nodenic cult in its tracks.  I’ve got three messages of commendation from the Brethern of Yog Sothoth alone, and an invitation to officiate at the Roodmass rites, from the Sister’s Of The Republic of Shub-Niggurath – you’d best get fit before taking that one up.’  Mendoza’s voice was full of honest pride; he was too good a cop to resent a rising subordinate.

Daniel just wished his head wasn’t splitting.  He’d had a pain behind his right eye, since getting out of the asylum, and he wished he hadn’t looked in the mirror.   His right eye was shot through with blue-veins, and the white of it looked like marble.  He wondered if he’d see differently through it when the headaches stopped.  Maybe before then, he ought to pluck it out.


3 Responses to “Some Thoughts on the Problem of Order”

  1. Nickolaus A. Pacione Wrote:

    Never seen it written like this before, but hell you did a damn good job with this one. I wish I could write a Mythos story like this one. I haven’t been around in a long time but I come by every now and then. Aliester got some good authors, and you’re a damn good one here.

  2. Bfwnov Wrote:

    good story bro, totally enjoy it, just… what’s with “the brown eye” thing, it is mentioned with pretense but nothing comes out of it.

  3. Mark H Blum Wrote:

    I was wondering: Like in the “Tyson Necronomicon” does Ia! mean ‘It is so!’?

    please let me know. and I found this site with the Cthuugle search engine!

    sincerely,

    Mark

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