Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reflections on a Near Incident

Author's note: My wife thinks I should include a disclaimer, just so nobody gets too excited by the idea that I'm actually a deranged cultist. I promise that Our Hero's account is entirely fictional, and that I've never sacrificed anybody... for anything. Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a writing exercise, inspired by a Cthulhu shirt that I got for Christmas, which prompted some thoughts on how much easier it must be for a deranged cultist in the modern world. It amuses me, so I keep at it. I hope it amuses you, too.

So Billy called me last night, just as I was getting off work. I'd been looking forward to a good night's sleep before the ritual on Saturday, but it wasn't to be. Billy had been making his own preparations for Saturday, which involved... well, that's complicated. The simple version is that he'd summoned a bumbler in order to use it as a sacrifice to call something else. Or at least, that was the idea.

Either he transcribed a glyph improperly, or mispronounced a word, or one of his ingredients had gone bad... he's not sure, and there's no way to tell. Whatever the reason, the bumbler broke its bindings as soon as it arrived, and wandered off into the woods. Billy sounded shaken - he was lucky the thing hadn’t attacked him - and he needed help to catch the thing before anyone spotted it.

It wasn’t just that it could do a lot of damage (though it certainly could; bumblers are stupid but extremely strong). If anyone saw the thing, they’d know it wasn’t natural - and when it died, as it would sooner or later, it would leave behind identifiable remains. We couldn’t allow that; it would attract precisely the sort of attention that we prefer to avoid. Cryptozoologists are rightly disregarded as gullible fools, but physical evidence would be another matter altogether. Even a cursory examination would suggest that the bumbler wasn’t native to this world, or the product of any sane system of evolution.

So instead of an early evening, I had a long night of tromping through the woods. Instead of restful sleep, I spent my time wondering if my protections would hold, and whether I’d be able to contain or banish the bumbler if I found it. Instead of being rested for the ritual, I was absolutely bloody exhausted - not to mention sore, scratched, bruised, and itchy with insect bites.

I hate that.

You’re probably wondering if we ever found the bumbler. I didn’t, but I wasn’t the only one Billy called. Mbata found it, and took it down. When the rest of us caught him up, we burned the remains. If anybody stumbles across it now, they’ll think it was a poorly-arranged campfire built from oddly shaped sticks. I was impressed, but then Mbata has a few gifts that I don’t share. Billy was effusively grateful, as he should have been.

Claire, of course, was curious as to what I’d been doing out in the woods after I’d told her I planned an early night. I told her I was helping a friend look for a lost pet, which I think impressed her. More about that later. Now: sleep...


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