Under The Pyramids: Megalophobia Painting & Cosmic Horror Story Remix

//RND Remix of an image by https://www.reddit.com/r/megalophobia/comments/11worem/just_a_cool_rendition_of_what_i_imagine_could_be/

Under the Pyramids

By H. P. Lovecraft for Harry Houdini; a modernised remix via Robert What for Republic Of Bob.

I. Mystery attracts fools.

Ever since the wide acceptance of my name as an online performer of some fame, I have encountered several odd events which my calling has led people to link with my unique philosophical activities. Most of these have been trivial and irrelevant, some dramatic, and some involving me in scientific and historical Research with which I was only remotely involved. Many of these matters I've shared freely with my adoring public, but there is one of which I speak with great reluctance and relate now to you, dear fellow Traveler, only after constant persuasion by a friend of this publication, who'd heard vague rumors of it from other Travelers of the Realm. I trust you will suspend your logical disbelief and temporarily open your mind to the hidden outer realms of illogical impossibility.

This once long guarded subject relates to my non-professional visit to The Republic Of Bob eight weeks ago, which in Internet years feels at least several centuries, and has been avoided by me for several reasons. For one thing, I am averse to exploiting certain natural facts and conditions obviously known to the myriad tourists who throng about the pyramids to the East, and which are rigorously defended with much diligence by the authorities, who cannot be ignorant of them.

I also generally dislike to recount incidents in which my own fantastical imagination must play so great a part. What I saw - or thought I saw - certainly did not take place, but rather is to be viewed as a direct result of the negative psychic effects of my historical readings in Deep Egyptology, and of those speculations about it which my unique environment in the Republic naturally prompts. These imaginative stimuli, magnified by the excitement of a terrible event, has undoubtedly given rise to the culminating horror of that grotesque night, thankfully long now past.

I had recently finished a professional engagement, and signed a contract for a tour of the outer theaters. A liberal time scale allowed for the trip, I determined to make the most of it, indulging in the sort of travel which interests me. So, accompanied by my new partner in art crime - a most handsome and slender femboy catgirl maid called Shandrobia - activated our brass lenses and drifted pleasantly down the continent and embarked at Marseilles on the P&O steamer Malwah, bound for Port Said. From that point, I proposed to visit the principal historical localities of lower Egypt before finally leaving for Sheffield. (Remember, dear fellow Traveler, all movement in the great realm of the I. Mystery attracts fools.

Republic is virtually instant, yet often tortuous in its random, fractured branching.)

The voyage was an agreeable one, and enlivened by many dryly amusing incidents which usually befall a performer apart from his work. For the sake of private travel, I had intended to keep my name a secret, but was goaded into self betrayal by a fellow magician of the digital persuasion. Their anxiety to astound foolish passengers with ordinary tricks - turning a old .gif of Bruce Lee into something other than a minor historical artifact, skillful rewriting a short story by a notorious racist shut in - tempted me to duplicate and exceed his feats in a manner destructive of my incognito. I mention this, because of its ultimate effect - an effect I should have foreseen before fully unmasking to dozens of tourists about to scatter throughout the Virtual Nile. What it did was to herald my identity wherever I went, and deprive my maid and I of all the quiet, inconspicuous travel we'd sought. Traveling to seek curiosities for my job, I'm also often forced to stand inspection as a sort of bizarre European curiosity.

We'd come to Egypt in search of the picturesque and the mystically impressive, but found little when the ship edged up to Port Said and discharged its passengers in small boats. Low dunes of perfectly blonde sand, bobbing buoys in shallow water and a dreary small town with nothing of interest, save a great statue of the local mayor, made us anxious to get on to something worth our while. After some discussion, we decided to proceed at once to Cairo and the Pyramids, later going to Alexandria and for whatever sights that ancient metropolis might present.

The railway journey was tolerable, and consumed only four hours. We saw much of the Suez Canal, and later had a taste of Old Egypt in our glimpse of recently restored fresh-water vegetable growing solar towers. At last, we saw Cairo glimmering through the growing dusk; a twinkling constellation which became a blaze as we halted at the great station.

Yet disappointment awaited for us again, for all that we beheld was European, save the crowds in their garish Steampunk cosplay uniforms. A prosaic subway led to a square teeming with carriages, taxicabs and classic red porter's trolleys. Gorgeous electric lights shone on tall buildings; whilst the very theater where I was vainly requested to play, which I later attended as a spectator had recently been renamed The Grand American Zoetrope. We stopped at Shepherd's Hotel, reached in an AI driven taxi that sped along broad, smartly built-up backstreets; and amidst the perfect service of its restaurant, glass elevators, and Anglo-American luxuries the mysterious East and immemorial past seemed very far away.

The next day, however, precipitated us directly into the dark heart of the Arabian Nights atmosphere; in the winding ways and exotic skyline of Cairo, the Bagdad of the Caliphate seemed to live again. Guided by our leather bound travel guide, we struck east past the Ezbekiyeh Gardens along the Mouski in quest of the native quarter, and were soon in the hands of a museum guide who - notwithstanding their later developments as a serial killer, no less - was assuredly a master at his trade. Not until afterward did I see that I should have applied at the hotel for a licensed guide.

This squat man, a well shaven and hollow-voiced fellow who looked like a scruffy pharaonic movie star and humbly announced himself as Abdul el Reis el Drogman, appeared to have much power over others. Subsequently the police professed not to know him, and told us that 'reis' is merely the name for any person in authority, while 'Drogman' obviously no more than a clumsy modification of the word for a leader of tourist parties; a dragoman.

Nonetheless, Abdul led us among such wonders as we had before only read of, and dreamed about in wonder. Old Cairo is itself a story book come to life; endless labyrinths of narrow alleys, redolent with aromatic secrets; Arabesque balconies and oriel windows nearly meeting above the cobbled streets like forbidden lovers about to kiss; there were unkempt maelstroms of Oriental traffic alive with cries, cracking whips, rattling carts, jingling money, dancing bears and braying donkeys; there were kaleidoscopes of robes, veils, turbans, and tarbushes; water-carriers and dervishes, wild dogs and stray cats, soothsayers, madmen, pickpockets and barbers; while over all them sang the whining of blind beggars crouched in alcoves, sonorous chanting from minarets delicately lined against a sky of deepest blue and the strained, high-pitched Mizmar reeds of Moroccan Sufi trance musicians. For this particular group I paused to give a spare coin from my inner breast pocket.

The roofed, quieter bazaars were no less alluring. Spice, incense, attar of roses, beads, rugs, silks, and brass - an old man squats cross-legged amidst endless gummy bottles while chattering youths pulverize mustard in the hollowed-out capital of an ancient Roman Corinthian column. It is here where I choose to allow antiquity to mingle with my thoughts of colonial exoticism. Finally came the mosques and the museums - we saw them all, and tried not to let our private Arabian revelry succumb to the darker charms of pharaonic Egypt, as regularly offered by the sights of the priceless treasures seen in modern museums.

That was to be our journey's climax, but for the present we concentrated on the medieval glories of the Caliphs, whose magnificent tomb-mosques form a glittering fairy necropolis on the edge of the Arabian Desert. At length, Abdul took us to the ancient mosque of Sultan Hassan, and the tower-flanked Bab-el-Azab, beyond which climbs the steep-walled pass to the mighty citadel built with the stones of forgotten pyramids. It was sunset when we finally scaled that cliff, circled the modern mosque built there and looked down from the dizzying parapet over mystic Cairo - all golden with its carved domes, ethereal minarets and flaming private gardens. Far over the city towered the great Roman dome of the new museum; and beyond it - across the cryptic yellow Nile that is the mother of aeons and dynasties - lurked the timeless sands of the forever undulating desert, iridescent with infinitely older Arcana - the mysterious knowledge known only to insiders.

The blood red sun sank low, bringing the slow, relentless chill of Egyptian dusk; and as it stood poised on the world's rim like an ancient god, we saw silhouetted against its golden veil the black outlines of the Pyramids of Gizeh - the tombs already burdened with a thousand years when Tut-Ankh-Amen mounted his golden throne in distant Thebes. It was then we truly knew that we were done with Cairo, and that we must taste the deeper mysteries of primal Egypt - the gods of Re and Amen, Isis and Osiris.

After a night of restless sleep, we visited the pyramids the next morning, riding out across the great Nile bridge with its bronze lions, the island of Ghizereh and the smaller English bridge to the Western shore. Down the shore road we drove, between great rows of giant trees and past the vast Zoological Gardens to the suburb of Gizeh, where a new bridge to Cairo proper has since been built. Then, turning inland we crossed a region of glassy canals and beautiful native villages, till before us loomed the objects of our quest, cleaving the dawn mists and forming inverted replicas in the roadside pools. It was indeed as Napoleon had told his campaigners there; forty centuries gazed down upon us in silent judgement.

The road now rose abruptly, till we finally reached our place of transfer between the trolley station and the Menwah House Hotel. Abdul el Reis, who capably purchased our tickets, seemed to have an understanding with the crowding, yelling Bedouins who inhabited a village some distance away and calmly assailed every foreign traveler for trade, for he kept them at bay and even secured an excellent pair of camels for us, finding a filthy donkey for himself and assigning the leadership of our animals to a group of young men more expensive than useful. The area to be traversed was small enough that camels were hardly needed, but we did not regret adding this troublesome, spitting form of desert navigation to our experience.

The pyramids stand on a high rock plateau, this group forming next to the northernmost of the series of regal and aristocratic cemeteries built in the neighborhood of the extinct capital Memphis, which lay on the same side of the Nile, somewhat south of Gizeh, and which flourished between 3400 and 2000 B.C.E. The greatest pyramid, which lies nearest the modern road, was built by King Cheops or Khufu about 2800 BCE, and stands more than 450 feet in perpendicular height. In a line southwest from this are successively the Second Pyramid, built a generation later by King Khephren, and though slightly smaller looks even larger because it's set on higher ground, and the radically smaller Third Pyramid of King Mycerinus, built about 2700 BCE. Near the edge of the plateau and due east of the Second Pyramid, with a face probably altered to form a colossal portrait of Khephren its royal restorer, stands the monstrous Sphinx - mute, sardonic and wise beyond mankind and memory.

Minor pyramids, and the traces of ruined minor pyramids are found in several places, and the whole plateau is pitted with the tombs of dignitaries of less than royal rank. These latter were originally marked by mastabas, or stone bench-like structures about the deep burial shafts, as found in other Memphian cemeteries and exemplified by Perneb's Tomb in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. At Gizeh however, all such visible things have been swept away by time and pillage; only the rock-hewn shafts, either sand-filled or cleared out by archaeologists, remain to attest their former existence. Connected with each tomb was a chapel in which priests and relatives offered food and prayer to the hovering 'ka' or invisible vital energy principle of the deceased. The small tombs have their chapels contained in their stone mastabas or superstructures, but the mortuary chapels of the pyramids, where regal Pharaohs lay were separate temples, each to the East of its corresponding pyramid, connected by a causeway to a massive gate-chapel at the edge of the rock plateau.

The gate-chapel leading to the Second Pyramid, nearly buried in the drifting sands, yawns subterraneously southeast of the Sphinx. Persistent tradition dubs it the Temple of the Syrinx (apparently an alternative spelling); and it may perhaps be rightly called as such if the Sphinx indeed represents the Second Pyramid's builder Khephren. There are several deciedly unpleasant tales of the Sphinx before Khephren - but whatever its elder features were, the monarch replaced them with his own that men might gaze at the colossus without fear. It was in the great gateway-temple that the life-size diorite statue of Khephren now in the Cairo Museum was found; a statue before which I stood in awe when I beheld it. Whether the whole edifice is now excavated I am not certain, but in 1910 most of it was below ground, with the entrance heavily barred at night. Filthy, crude Germans were in charge of the work. I would give much, in view of my experience and of certain Bedouin whisperings discredited or unknown in Cairo, to know what precisely has developed in connection with a certain well in a gallery where statues of the Pharaoh were found in curious juxtaposition to the statues of rabid baboons, their terrifying long teeth drawn in either anger or fright.

As we traversed the road on our camels that fated morning, we curved sharply past the wooden police quarters, the post-office and tourist shops on the left, and plunged South and East in a complete bend that scaled the rock plateau and brought us face to face with the desert under the Great Pyramid. Past dense slabs of masonry we rode, rounding the Eastern face and looking down ahead into a valley of minor pyramids, beyond which the eternal Nile glistened to the East, and the eternal desert shimmered to the West. The three major pyramids loomed close, the greatest devoid of outer casing and shewing its bulk of great stones, but the others retaining the neatly fitted covering which in their day had made them perfectly smooth and finished.

Presently we descended toward the Sphinx, and sat silent beneath the spell of those terrible, unseeing eyes. On the vast stone breast we faintly discerned the emblem of Re-Harakhte, for whose image the Sphinx was mistaken in a late dynasty; and though sand covered the tablet between the great paws, we recalled what Thutmosis IV inscribed thereon, and the strange dream he'd had when a prince. It was then that the smile of the Sphinx vaguely displeased us, and made us wonder about the legends of subterranean passages beneath the monstrous creature, leading down to depths none might dare hint at - depths perhaps connected with mysteries older than the dynastic Egypt excavated, and having a sinister relation to the persistence of abnormal, animal-headed gods in the ancient Nilotic pantheon. I asked myself such idle questions, whose hideous significance however was not to appear for many hours.

Other tourists now began to overtake us, and we moved on to the sand-choked Temple of the Sphinx, fifty yards to the Southeast, which I've previously mentioned as the great gate of the causeway to the Second Pyramid's mortuary chapel on the plateau. Most of it was still underground, and although we dismounted and descended through a modern passageway to its alabaster corridor and pillared hall, I felt that Abdul and the local German attendant had not shown us all there was to see. We then made the conventional circuit of the pyramid plateau, examining the Second Pyramid and the peculiar ruins of its mortuary chapel to the East, the Third Pyramid and its miniature Southern satellites and ruined Eastern chapel, the rock tombs and the honeycombs of the Fourth and Fifth Dynasties, and the famous Campell's Tomb whose shadowy shaft sinks precipitously for 530 feet to a sinister sarcophagus.

Cries now assailed us from the Great Pyramid, where Bedouins were besieging a party of tourists with offers of guidance to the top, or of displays of speed in the performance of solitary trips up and down. A single hour is said to be the record for such an ascent and descent, but many lusty sheiks and their sons assured us they could cut it to a mere twenty minutes if given the requisite liberal impetus of baksheesh. They did not receive this impetus, though we did let Abdul take us up, thereby obtaining a view of unprecedented magnificence which included not only remote and glittering Cairo with its crowned citadel and background of violet-gold hills, but all the pyramids of the Memphian district as well, from Abu Roash on the North to the Dashur on the South.

The Sakkara step-pyramid glimmered with allure and clarity in the sandy distance. I was forced to silence through sheer awe. The prospect of such inherently mysteriously antiquity, and the secrets each ancient monument seemed to hold and brood over me, filled me with a reverence and sense of immensity far outside of time.

Fatigued by our climb, and annoyed with the tourists whose interactions with and treatment of the local Bedouin seemed to defy every rule of taste, we omitted the arduous detail of entering the cramped interior passages of any of the pyramids, though we saw several of the hardiest tourists preparing for the suffocating crawl through Cheops' mightiest memorial. As we paid and then dismissed our local bodyguard and drove back to Cairo with Abdul Reis under the baking afternoon sun, we half regretted the omission we had made. Such fascinating things were whispered about lower pyramid passages not in the guide-books; passages whose entrances had been hastily blocked up and concealed by certain uncommunicative archaeologists who had found and begun to explore them. Of course, on the face of it such idle whispering was utterly baseless; still, it was curious to reflect how persistently visitors were forbidden to enter the pyramids at night, or to visit the lowest burrows and crypt of the Great Pyramid. Perhaps in the latter case it was the psychological effect which was feared - the effect on the visitor of feeling himself huddled down beneath a gigantic world of solid masonry; joined to the life he has known by the merest tube through which he may only crawl, and which any accident or evil design might suddenly permanently block without warning.

There have even been considerable reports of death traps for unwary tomb raiders - often Christian - though most of the deaths seemed to have occurred through simple greed-fueled misadventure. Forcibly opening perfectly sealed Sarcophagi with crowbars in search of priceless treasure, only to be met with a sudden fetid air blast of ancient mold and crypt fungi, is a recipe for private disaster - lamentable, yet hardly surprising. The very lungs corrode, and the patient dies a painful, lingering death within a week. There is no cure. Even the remains must be burned at high temperature, far from others less the poison and 'curse' linger on to spread among the living. Of course, the whole sordid subject seemed so horribly weird that we resolved to pay the pyramid plateau another visit at the earliest possible opportunity. For me however, this opportunity came far earlier than I expected.

That evening, the members of our party feeling tired after the day's strenuous programme, I went alone with Abdul Reis for a walk through the picturesque Arab quarter. Though I had seen it by day, I wished to study the alleys and bazaars in the dusk, when rich shadows and mellow gleams of light added to their glamour and illusion. The native crowds were thinning, but were still very noisy and numerous when we came upon a knot of revelling Bedouins in the Suken-Nahhasin, or bazaar of the coppersmiths. Shortly after nine our party, mounted on donkeys bearing such foolish names as Rameses, Mark Twain, JP Morgan and Minnehaha, edged through street labyrinths, crossed the muddy and mast-forested Nile by the bridge of the bronze lions, and cantered philosophically between the waving Lebbakhs on the road to Gizeh. Slightly over two hours were consumed by the trip, toward the end of which we passed the last of the returning tourists, saluted the last in-bound trolley-car, and were alone with the night and the past and the spectral moon.

Then we saw the vast pyramids at the end of the avenue, suddenly ghoulish with a dim menace which I'd not noticed in the daytime. Even the smallest of them held a hint of the ghastly - for was it not in this that they had buried Queen Nitokris alive in the Sixth Dynasty; who once invited all her enemies to a grand feast in a temple below the Nile, only to drown them by opening the water gates? I recalled that the locals whisper things about Nitokris, and shun the Third Pyramid at certain phases of the moon.

Early as we were, our party were ahead of us; for we saw their donkeys outlined against the desert plateau at Kafr-el-Haram; toward which a beautiful Arab settlement close to the Sphinx we diverged, instead of following the regular road to the Mena House where some of the sleepy police might of have observed and halted us. Here helpful Bedouins stabled camels and donkeys in the rock tombs of Khephren's courtiers, and we were led up the rocks and over the sand to the Great Pyramid, up whose time-worn sides the locals swarmed eagerly, Abdul Reis at times offering me assistance on the shifting sands for which I was grateful.

As most experienced travelers know, the actual apex of this structure has long been worn away, leaving a reasonably flat platform twelve yards square. On this eerie pinnacle a squared circle was formed, and in a few moments the naked desert moon leered down upon a scene of much delight. Amidst the singing, fraternizing and drinking, I seemed to become more and more the center of notice. From my smattering of Arabic I judged that they were discussing my professional performances and escapes from every sort of manacle and confinement, in a manner which indicated not only a surprising knowledge of me, but a distinct and admittedly healthy skepticism concerning my feats of escape. It gradually dawned on me that the elder magic of Egypt did not depart without leaving traces, and that fragments of a strange secret lore and priestly cult-practices have survived surreptitiously amongst the people to such an extent, that the prowess of a strange "hahwi" or magician is hot disputed, if not outright resented; god knows what they must of thought about some filthy foreigner, a mere tourist in their noble culture.

I began to notice how much my hollow-voiced guide Abdul Reis looked like an old Egyptian priest or Pharaoh or smiling Sphinx.. and wondered. Suddenly something happened which in a flash proved the correctness of my reflections, and made me curse the naivety whereby I'd accepted this night's events as other than the empty and malicious charade they now showed themselves to be. Without warning, and doubtless in answer to some subtle sign from Abdul, the entire band of Bedouins precipitated itself upon my person; and having produced heavy ropes, had me bound as securely as I was ever bound in the course of my life on stage. I struggled at first with all my will, but soon saw that one man could make no headway against a band of over twenty sinewy desert warriors.

My hands were tied behind my back, my knees bent to their fullest extent, and my wrists and ankles stoutly linked together with unyielding cords. Finally a stifling gag was forced into my mouth, and a blindfold fastened tightly over my eyes. Then, as the Arabs bore me aloft on their shoulders and began a jouncing descent of the pyramid, I heard the taunts of my late guide Abdul, who mocked and jeered delightedly in his voice, and assured me that I was soon to have my 'magic powers' put to a supreme test which would quickly remove any egotism gained throughout my dubious career. Egypt, he reminded me, is very, very old; full of inner mystery and antique powers inconceivable to the pale skinned, and modern, so called experts.

Just how far or in what direction I was carried, I cannot tell; for the circumstances were against the clear formation of accurate judgment. I know, however, that it could not have been a great distance; since my bearers at no point hastened beyond a walk, and kept me aloft only a short time. It is this perplexing brevity which makes me feel almost like shuddering whenever I think of Gizeh and its plateau - for one is oppressed by hints of the terrible proximity to everyday tourist routes of what existed then, and must exist still.

The unspeakable, doom laden cosmic abnormalities I speak of did not become manifest at first. Setting me down on a surface which I recognized as sand rather than rock, my captors passed a thin rope of stinking camel hair around my upper chest. I glanced to my left, and initially thought the end of the rope hidden beneath a large pile of sand. However, as my captors began to drag me toward a small ragged opening in the ground, I realized that the sand pile was really a massive hill of rope, merely covered in the all pervasive red dust and time of the desert.

They presently lowered me with much rough handling into the hole. Behind my gag I screamed in anger and disbelief. I glanced up through the falling sand to see brown, cloth covered faces stare down at me with unwavering intensity, strangely devoid of emotion. My companion Shandrobia was also there and threw me a brief, nervous wave. Shortly after they all disappeared from the edge of the hole, and I heard them chanting. And there I descended, and descended. For days it seemed, I bumped against the stony irregular side of an immense wall which I took to be one of the numerous burial shafts of the plateau until the prodigious, almost incredible depth of it robbed me of all rational bases of conjecture.

The blackening horror of this experience deepened with every dragging moment. That any descent through the sheer solid rock could be so vast without reaching the very core of the earth, or that any rope made by man could be so long as to dangle a victim in the unholy and seemingly fathomless profundities of the netherworld, were beliefs of such grotesqueness that it was easier to doubt my agitated senses than to accept them.

Even today I am uncertain, for I know how deceitful the sense of time becomes when one or more of the usual perceptions or conditions of ordinary life is removed or distorted. But I am quite sure that I preserved a logical consciousness that far; that at least I did not add any full-grown phantoms of imagination to a picture hideous enough in its unclothed reality.

All this however was not the cause of my first bit of fainting. The shocking ordeal was cumulative, and the beginning of the later terrors rose with a very perceptible increase in my rate of descent. They were paying out that seemingly infinite rope very swiftly now, and I scraped cruelly against the rough and constricted side of the great wall as I shot madly downward. My clothing was in tatters, and I felt the trickle of fresh blood all over, even above the mounting pain caused by the restrictions of my binding. My nostrils, too, were now assailed by a scarcely definable menace; a creeping odor of damp and staleness unlike anything I'd ever smelt before, overtones of spice and incense that lent a cruel, mocking element. It was also sucking cold - a temperature that seemed to leech the very life from my shivering marrow with every untold meter of my descent.

II. The lowest gloom.

It was very gradually that I regained my senses after that eldritch flight through this Stygian space. The process was painful indeed, and colored by fantastic dreams. The precise nature of these dreams was very clear while I was experiencing them, but became blurred in my recollection immediately afterward, and was soon reduced to the merest outline by the terrible events - real or imaginary - which followed. I dreamed that I was in the grasp of a great and horrible paw; a yellow, hairy, five-clawed paw which had reached out of the black earth to engulf me. And when I stopped to reflect what the paw was, it seemed to me that it was Egypt herself. In the dream I looked back at the events of the preceding weeks, and saw myself lured and enmeshed little by little, subtly and insidiously, by some ghoulish spirit of elder Nile sorcery; a spirit that was Egypt before ever man was, and that will still be when man is no more.

I saw this horror and unwholesome antiquity, and the grisly alliance it has always had with the tombs and temples of the dead. I saw phantom processions of priests with the heads of bulls, falcons, cats, and ibises; phantom processions marching interminably through subterranean labyrinths and avenues of titanic stone gates, beside which a man is as a fly, and offering unnamable sacrifices to indescribable beings. Stone colossi marched in endless night and drove herds of grinning andro-sphinxes down to the shores of illimitable, stagnant rivers of pitch. And behind it all, behind all this spiritual madness and grotesque ritualistic pomp I saw the ineffable malignity of some super primordial necromancy, black and amorphous, fumbling greedily after me in total darkness to choke out the spirit that had dared to mock it by attempting mere description. In my sleeping brain there took shape an ultra sinister melodrama of emotionless hatred and pursuit, and I saw the blackened soul of ancient landscapes singling me out and calling me in inaudible whispers; calling and luring me, leading me onward to my own ignorant doom with the heavy glamour of history's surface, yet ever pulling me down to the age-mad catacombs and horrors of its dead and abysmal heart.

Then the dream-faces took on human resemblances, and I saw my guide Abdul Reis in the robes of a king, with the sneer of the Sphinx on his features. And I knew that those features were the features of Khephren the Great, who raised the Second Pyramid, carved over the Sphinx's face in the likeness of his own, and built that titanic gateway temple whose myriad corridors the archaeologists think they have dug out of the cryptical sand and the uninformative rock. And I looked at the long, lean, rigid hand of Khephren; the long, lean, rigid hand as I had seen it on the diorite statue in the Cairo Museum - the statue they had found in the terrible gateway temple - and wondered that I had not shrieked when I saw it on Abdul Reis.. That hand! That terrible yellow paw.. It was hideously cold, and it was crushing me; it was the eternal cold and cramp of the inside of a sarcophagus.. the bone sucking chill and constriction of irrepressible Egypt.. It was night-illuminated, necropolitan Egypt herself.. whispering such things unknowable to mortal man.

At this juncture I began to awake - or at least, to assume a condition less completely that of sleep than the one just preceding. I suddenly recalled the fight atop the pyramid, the Bedouins and their assault, my frightful descent by rope through endless rock depths, and my mad swinging and plunging in a freezing void redolent of aromatic putrescence. I perceived that I now lay on a damp rock floor, and that my bonds were still biting into me with unloosened force. The cold was petrifying, and I detected a faint current of noisome air sweeping across me. The cuts and bruises I had received from the jagged sides of the rock shaft were paining me woefully, their soreness now enhanced to stinging, burning acuteness by some pungent quality in the draught, and the mere act of rolling over was enough to set my whole frame throbbing with agony. As I turned I felt a tug from far above, and concluded that the rope used to lower me still reached to the surface. Whether or not my captors still held it, I had no idea; nor had I any idea how far within the earth I was. I knew that the darkness around me was nearly total, since no ray of moonlight penetrated my blindfold; yet I still did not trust my senses enough to accept as evidence of extreme depth the sensation of immense duration which had accompanied my descent.

Knowing at least that I was in a space of considerable extent reached from the surface directly above by a tiny rock opening, I doubtfully conjectured that my prison was perhaps the buried gateway chapel of old Khephren - the Temple of the Sphinx - perhaps some inner corridor which the guides had not shewn me during my morning visit, and from which I might somehow escape - if I could by some miracle find my way to the barred entrance. It would be a labyrinthine wandering, but no worse than many other traps out of which I had in the past found my way. The first step of course was to get free of my bonds, gag, and blindfold; this I knew would be no simple task.

It then occurred to me that the tribe far above me might also be prepared to meet and attack me at the entrance, upon any evidence of my escape. It was of course taken for granted that my place of confinement was indeed Khephren's Temple of the Sphinx. The direct opening in the roof, wherever it might lurk, could not be beyond easy reach of the ordinary modern entrance near the Sphinx, if in truth it were any great distance at all on the surface. Yet while the total area known to regular visitors is not at all enormous, I had not noticed any such opening during my daytime pilgrimage, but knew that such things are easily overlooked amidst the drifting sands. Thinking these matters over as I lay bent and bound on the rock floor, I nearly forgot the horrors of my abysmal descent and cavernous swinging which had so nearly reduced me to a total coma. My only thought to outwit my captors, and I accordingly determined to work myself free as quickly as possible, avoiding any tug on the descending line which might betray an effective attempt at freedom.

This, however, was more easily determined than effected. A few preliminary trials made it clear that little could be accomplished without considerable agitation; and it did not surprise me when, after a brief yet energetic struggle, I began to feel the coils of falling rope as they began to piled up about and upon me. Obviously, I thought, the Bedouins had felt my movements and released their end of the rope; hastening no doubt to the temple's true entrance to murderously lie in wait for me. The prospect was not pleasing - but I had faced worse in my time without flinching, and would not flinch now. At present I must first of all free myself of bonds, then trust to ingenuity to escape from the ruined temple unharmed. It is curious indeed how implicitly and naively I had come to believe myself in the old temple of Khephren beside the Sphinx, some considerable distance below the ground but still within the rational bounds of ordinary measurement.

That belief was shattered, and every pristine apprehension of preternatural depth and daemoniac mystery revived, by a circumstance which grew in horror and significance, even as I formulated my escape plan. I've said that the falling rope was piling up about and upon me. Now I saw that it was continuing to pile, as no rope of normal length could possibly do. It gained in momentum and soon became an avalanche of stinking horse hair, accumulating mountainously on the floor, half burying me beneath its swiftly multiplying coils. Soon I was all but engulfed, gasping for breath as the increasing convolutions submerged and stifled me. My senses tottered again, and I vainly tried to fight off a menace both desperate and ineluctable. It was not merely that I was being mentally tortured almost beyond human endurance - not merely that life and breath seemed to be crushed slowly out of me - it was the awful knowledge of what those unnatural lengths of rope implied, and the consciousness of what unknown and incalculable gulfs of inner earth must at this moment be surrounding me. My endless descent and swinging flight through diabolic space, then, must have been real; even now I must be lying helpless in some nameless cavern world toward the dead core of the earth. Such a sudden confirmation of ultimate horror was insupportable, and a second time I lapsed into merciful oblivion.

I do not imply that I was free from dreams; on the contrary, my absence from the conscious world was marked by visions of the most unutterable hideousness. God!.. If only I had not psychically ingested so much Deep Egyptology before visiting this ancient place, a fountain of dark terror. This second spell of fainting filled my sleeping mind anew with shivering realization of the country and its archaic secrets, and through some damnable chance my dreams turned to the ancient notions of the dead and their sojourns in soul and body beyond those mysterious tombs. In vague, waxy dream-shapes which it is well that I do not fully recall, there exist acutely peculiar and elaborate constructions of Egyptian sepulchres, and the exceedingly singular and appalling, inhuman doctrines which determined their construction.

All these ancient peoples thought of was death and the dead. That is, they conceived of a literal resurrection of the body which made them mummify it with desperate care, and preserve all the vital organs in canopic jars placed near the corpse; whilst besides the body they believed in two other elements, the soul, which after its weighing and approval by Osiris dwelt in the land of the blessed, and the obscure and portentous 'ka' or life-principle which wandered about the upper and lower worlds in a horrible way, demanding occasional access to the preserved body, consuming the food offerings brought by priests and pious relatives to the mortuary chapel, and sometimes - as men whispered - stealing back its body or the wooden double always buried beside it and stalking noxiously around on sunless errands peculiarly repellent to the living.

For thousands of years those bodies rested gorgeously encased and staring glassily upward when not visited by the ka, awaiting the day when Osiris should restore both ka and soul, and lead forth the stiff legions of the dead from their time sunken houses of sleep. The ultimate idea was for a glorious rebirth - but not all souls were approved, nor were all tombs unblemished and undefiled, so that certain grotesque mistakes and fiendish abnormalities were expected. Even today the Arabs murmur of unholy midnight meetings and unwholesome worship in forgotten nether abysses, which only winged invisible kas and soulless mummies may wander and return unscathed.

Perhaps the most leering, blood-congealing legends are those which relate to certain perverse products of decadent priest craft - composite mummies made by the artificial union of human trunks and limbs with the heads of animals in grotesque imitation of the elder gods. At all stages of history were sacred animals mummified, so that consecrated bulls, cats, ibises, crocodiles, and the like might return some day to greater glory in the gardens and fields of the redeemed. But only in unholy decadence did they deliberately mix the human and animal in the same mummy - when they did not understand the rights and prerogatives of the ka and the soul. What happened to those composite mummies is not told of - at least publicly - and no Egyptologist has admitted to ever finding one. In any case, the private whispers and time worn legends of the peoples of this land are often wild, and cannot be relied upon. They even hint that old Khephren - he of the Sphinx, the Second Pyramid, and the yawning gateway temple - lives far underground, forever wedded to the ghoul-queen Nitokris and ruling over the countless mummies, cultish protectors neither man nor beast.

It was of these I dreamed - of Khephren and his consort and his strange armies of the hybrid dead, and that is why I am glad the exact shapes have faded from memory. My most horrible vision was connected with an idle question I'd asked myself the day before when looking at the great riddle of the desert Sphinx, and wondering with what unknown depths the temple so close to it might be secretly connected. That question, so innocent and whimsical then, assumed in my dream a meaning of frenetic and hysterical madness.. what actual huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carved to represent?

Despite a life that's been full of adventure and danger beyond most men, my second awakening - if that's what it is - is a stark, unparalleled hideousness. Having previously lost consciousness whilst virtually buried beneath a cascade of falling rope whose immensity revealed the cataclysmic depth of my present position, perception returned, and I felt the entire weight gone. Upon rolling over however, I realized that though I was still tied, some agency had removed my gag, blindfold, and the entire suffocating landslide which had overwhelmed me. The true significance of this condition of course, came to me only gradually; but even so, I think it would have brought unconsciousness again had I not by this time reached such a state of emotional exhaustion that no new horror could make much difference. I was alone, sure.. but with what exactly?

Before I could terrify myself with any new reflection, or make any fresh effort to escape from my bonds, an additional circumstance became manifest. Pains not formerly felt were racking my arms and legs, and I seemed coated with a profusion of dried blood beyond anything furnished by my former cuts and abrasions. My chest seemed pierced by an hundred separate wounds, as though some malign Ibis had been pecking at it. Whatever agency which had removed the rope was assuredly hostile, and had begun to wreak terrible injuries upon me before suddenly impelled to desist.

Now my sensations were distinctly the reverse of what one might expect; instead of merely sinking into the bottomless pit of despair I'd been obviously lowered into, I was stirred to a new courage and forthright action; for now I felt that the evil forces were finally physical - material things which a fearless man might encounter, and fight against directly on an even basis.

On the strength of this angry thought alone, I tugged again at my bonds, and used all the art of a lifetime to free myself as I'd so often done amidst the glare of lights and the applause of crowds. The familiar details of my escape process commenced to engross me, and now that the long hair rope was gone I half regained my belief that the supreme horrors were hallucinations after all - that there had never been any terrible shaft, measureless abyss or interminable rope. Was I after all simply inside the gateway temple of Khephren beside the Sphinx, the sneaking Bedouin stolen in to torture me as I lay helpless there? At any rate, I must be free. Let me stand up unbound, ungagged and with eyes open to catch any glimmer of light which might come trickling from any source. To delight in martial combat against evil and treacherous foes!

How long I took in shaking off my encumbrances I cannot tell. It must have been longer than in my usual exhibition performances, because I was wounded and exhausted by the experiences I'd passed through. When finally free, I took several deep breaths of a terribly chill, damp, horribly spiced air, more foul when encountered without the screen of gag. I found that I was too cramped and fatigued to move at once, so I lay in silence, slowly stretching a frame bent and mangled for an indefinite period, straining my eyes to catch a glimpse of any light ray which would give a hint to my position.

My strength and flexibility returned by forced degrees, but my eyes beheld nothing. As I staggered to my feet I peered diligently in every direction, yet met only an ebony blackness as great as that I'd known when blindfolded. I tried my legs, blood-encrusted beneath my torn trousers, and found that I could walk with a limp; yet I could not decide in what direction to go. Obviously I ought not to travel at random, accidentally retreating from any entrance I sought; so I paused to note the direction of the cold, fetid, spice-scented air current which I'd never ceased to feel. Accepting the point of its source as the possible entrance to the abyss, I strove to keep track of it and to half-stumble consistently toward it.

Originally I'd a match box with me, even a small electric wind-up flashlight; but of course the pockets of my tossed and tattered clothing were long since emptied of all heavy articles. As I walked cautiously in the blackness, the draught grew stronger and more offensive, till at length I could regard it as nothing less than a tangible stream of detestable vapor pouring from some vile unseen aperture, the smoke of the genie from the jar. The ancient East.. Deep Egypt.. truly, this particular cradle of civilization was ever a well-spring of horrors and marvels most unspeakable. The more I reflected on the nature of this gross cavern wind, the greater my sense of disquiet became; for although despite its bitter odor I'd sought its source as at least an indirect clue to the outer world, I now however plainly saw that this foul emanation could have no admixture or connection whatsoever with the clean air of the Desert, but merely something thing vomited forth from sinister gulfs lower down.

After a moment's reflection I decided not to retrace my steps. Away from the draught I'd have no landmarks, for the roughly level rock floor was devoid of distinctive features. If, however, I followed the strange current, I might arrive at an aperture of some sort, from whose gate I could perhaps work round the walls to the opposite side of this otherwise unnavigable hall. I well realized I might fail, and die alone down here in the depths; I sensed that this was no part of Khephren's gateway temple which regular tourists know, and it struck me that this particular hall might be unknown even to archaeologists, and merely stumbled upon by inquisitive and malignant desert tribes who had imprisoned me for their twisted delight.

What evidence, indeed, did I now possess that this was the gateway temple at all? For a moment my wildest speculations rushed back upon me, and I thought of that vivid melange of impressions - descent, suspension, the rope, my wounds and the dreams that were frankly absurd. Was this the end of life for me - or indeed, would it be merciful if this moment were the end? I could answer none of my own questions, but merely keep on till fate reduced me to oblivion. This time there were no dreams, for the suddenness of the incident shocked me out of all thought, either conscious or otherwise. Tripping on an unexpected descending step at a point where the offensive draught became strong enough to offer actual, physical resistance, I was precipitated headlong down a black flight of huge stone stairs into a gulf of true hideousness.

That I ever breathed again is a tribute to the inherent vitality of a human organism existing on nothing but pure survival instinct. Often I look back to that terrible night and feel a touch of sick humour in those repeated lapses of consciousness; lapses whose succession reminded me at the time of nothing more than the crude cinematic melodramas of the period. Of course, it is possible that the repeated lapses never occurred; and that all the features of that underground nightmare were merely one long existential coma, which began with the shock of my descent into that abyss and ended with the healing balm of the outer air and the rising sun which found me stretched on the sands of Gizeh before the sardonic, dawn-flushed face of the mighty Sphinx.

I prefer to believe this latter explanation as much as I can, hence was glad when the police told me that the barrier to Khephren's gateway temple had been found unfastened, and that a sizeable rift to the surface did actually exist in one corner of the still buried part. I was glad, too, when the doctors pronounced my wounds only those to be expected from my seizure, blindfolding, lowering, struggling with bonds, falling some distance - perhaps into a depression in the temple's inner gallery - dragging myself to the outer barrier and escaping from it.. in all a very soothing diagnosis. And yet I know that there must be more than mere appearance. That extreme descent was simply too vivid a memory to be dismissed - and it is odd indeed that nobody has ever been able to find a local man answering the description of my guide Abdul - the tomb-throated guide who looked and smiled like King Khephren. But I digress.

When I recovered - or seemed to recover - my senses after that fall down the black stone stairs, I was quite as alone and in darkness as before. The windy stench, bad enough before, was now fiendish. It stung my eyes. Dazed, I began to crawl away from the putrid wind, and with my bleeding hands felt the colossal blocks of a mighty pavement. My head suddenly struck against a hard object, and as I felt it learned it was the base of a column - a column of unbelievable immensity - whose surface was covered with gigantic chiselled hieroglyphics perceptible to my touch. Crawling on, I encountered other titan columns at considerable distances apart. Suddenly my attention was captured by the realization of something which must have been impinging on my subconscious, long before my conscious mind was aware of it.

From some chasm in earth's bowels proceeded certain sounds, measured and definite, like nothing I'd ever heard before. I felt almost intuitively that they were ancient and distinctly ceremonial; much reading in Deep Egyptology led me to associate them with the flute, the sambuke, the sistrum and the tympanum. In their rhythmic piping, droning, rattling and beating I felt an element of the Beyond, that is past all known terrors of the earth - a unique terror, utterly dissociated from personal fear, taking the form of an almost objective pity for our entire planet, that it should hold within its cacophonic depths such horrors which lie beyond all reasoning.

The sounds steadily increased in volume, and I felt that 'they' were approaching. Then - and may all the gods of all pantheons keep the like from my ears again - I began to hear, faintly and afar off, the morbid and millennial tramping of the marching dead. It was hideous that footfalls so dissimilar to the armies of the living should move in such perfect rhythm. The training of unhallowed thousands of years must lie behind that march of earth's inmost monstrosities.. padding, clicking, walking, stalking, rumbling, lumbering, crawling.. all to the abhorrent discords of mocking instruments. And then.. God keep the memory of those desert legends out of my head! The mummies without souls.. the meeting-place of the wandering kas.. the hordes of the cursed pharaonic dead of untold centuries.. the composite mummies, led through the uttermost onyx voids by mad King Khephren and his rotting ghoul-queen..

The tramping drew nearer - heaven save me from the sound of those feet and paws and hooves and pads as it commenced to acquire sharpening detail! Down limitless reaches of sunless pavement a spark of light flickered in the malodorous wind, and I drew behind the enormous circumference of a Cyclopic column that I might escape for a while the horror that was stalking, million-footed toward me through gigantic halls of inhuman dread and phobic antiquity. The flickers increased, and the tramping and dissonant rhythm grew sickeningly loud. In the quivering, pale orange light there stood faintly forth a scene of such stony awe that I gasped from a sheer wonder, briefly conquering even fear and repulsion. Bases of columns whose middles were higher than human sight.. mere bases of things that must each dwarf the Eiffel Tower to insignificance.. hieroglyphics carved by unthinkable hands in caverns where daylight can be only a remote legend..

I would not look directly at the marching dead, their creaking joints and nitrous wheezing above the music and their tramping. It was merciful that they did not speak.. but God! Their crazy torches began to cast shadows on the surface of those stupendous columns. Heaven take it away! Crocodiles should not have human hands and carry torches.. men should not have the heads of wolves, festering holes in their blue-grey flesh out of which poured tar-spattered burrowing worms..

I tried to turn away, but the shadows and the sounds and the stench were everywhere. Then I remembered something I used to do in half-conscious nightmares as a boy, and began to silently repeat to myself, "This is a dream! This is just a dream!" But it was of no use, and I could only shut my eyes and pray.. at least, that is what I think I did. I wondered whether I should ever reach the living world again, and furtively opened my eyes to see if I could discern any useful feature of this place - other than the ceaseless wind of spiced putrefaction, the topless columns, and the grotesque shadows of abnormal horror.

I gasped in shock as the sputtering glare of a hundred thousand torches suddenly went out without a sound. As quickly as they had occurred, the gathering undead throngs and the awful discordance which heralded their arrival disappeared into the receding darkness, and only a persistent greenish purple afterglow remained. I suddenly felt I'd been witness to a ghostly vision - an ancient memory, temporary stirred into manifestation by my unwanted presence. Was this hellish non-place wholly without walls? I could not see any outer boundary or fixed landmark. But I had to shut my eyes again when I remembered how many of the things had assembled - and even worse, imagined for what terrible purpose.

It was then I glimpsed a certain awful object, walking solemnly and steadily toward me out of the pitch, without any body above chest height. Wide ragged tatters of binding cloth streamed down to its waist. You could not tell me how I knew, but I clearly sensed this creature was a priest; a single priest of high rank among the mindless, worshiping hordes.

A fiendish moan, a roaring gurgle now split the very air. In a single concerted chorus from this ghoulish conjunction of hybrid blasphemies, the entire funeral atmosphere was poisonous with naphtha and bitumen; corpse oil. The priest slowly bowed before me in great reverence, and a thousand moldy worms and thick, lumpy black tar spewed out of its midsection onto the dusty floor. I neatly and immediately vomited in abject disgust. It then stood upright, slowly turned around, and ambled away back into the algae green darkness. Wiping my mouth, all the hairs on my neck stood up as I suddenly realized in utmost horror that it was bowing, not to me, but to something awful immediately behind me. In utmost terror I slowly twisted my head around to meet what I imagined was my ultimate fate.

My eyes, perversely shaken open, gazed for an instant upon a sight which no human creature could imagine without utmost panic and exhaustion. The gathered rotting throngs, the direction of the noisome wind, the bent waist of the undead priest.. They were all worshiping before a great black putrefaction-belching aperture which reached up almost out of sight, flanked at right angles by two giant staircases whose ends were far away in shadow.

The dimensions of the hole were fully in proportion with those of the columns - an ordinary house would have been lost in it, and any average public building could easily have been moved in and out. Only by moving the eye could one trace its boundaries.. so big, so hideous, so aromatically rancid. Directly in front of this yawning dimensional doorway, awful, twisted things were throwing objects - religious offerings, or sacrifices to judge by their gestures. Khephren also stood there, and was obviously their leader; sneering King Khephren or my guide Abdul Reis I could not tell which, crowned with gold and intoning endless archaic formulae with the hollow voice of the dead. By his side knelt beautiful Queen Nitokris, whom I saw in profile for a moment, noting that the right half of her crumbing face was eaten away by rats. And I shut my eyes again when I saw what exactly was being thrown as offerings into that vile aperture.

It occurred to me that, judging from the elaborateness of this scene of unholy worship, the concealed deity must be one of vast importance; some massive unknown God of the Dead, central and supreme? Local legend has it that terrible altars and stone colossi were reared in the deep past to an Unknown Face, even before the known gods were worshiped..

And now, as I steeled myself to watch the rapt and sepulchral adorations of those terrible nameless things, a single thought of escape flashed upon me. The hall was dim, the columns heavy with shadow. And with every creature of that nightmare throng currently absorbed in shocking rapture, I sensed the slimmest possibility for me to creep past to a faraway staircase and ascend unseen. I trusted fate and skill to deliver me to those upper reaches. Where I was in actuality, I neither knew nor seriously reflected upon - and for a moment it struck me as amusing, to plan a serious escape from that which I knew to be a hopeless wish. Was I in some hidden and unsuspected lower realm of Khephren's gateway temple - that temple which generations have persistently called the Temple of the Sphinx? I could not conjecture, but I resolved to ascend to full life and consciousness if wit and muscle could carry me.

Wriggling flat on my bleeding stomach, I began the anxious journey toward the foot of the left-hand staircase. I cannot describe the exact and painful sensations of that crawl, creeping alone in the malign, wind-blown stench and greeny purple darkness in order to avoid detection. The bottom of the staircase was, as I've said, far away in shadow. This placed the last stages of my crawl at some distance from the noisome herd, though the spectacle chilled me even when eventually remote.

At length I succeeded in reaching the steps and began to climb; keeping close to the far wall, I observed decorations of the most hideous sort, relying for safety on the absorbed, ecstatic interest with which the monstrosities watched the foul-breezed aperture - the impious objects of nourishment they flung directly into it. Though the staircase was huge and steep, fashioned of vast stone blocks as if for the feet of a giant, the ascent seemed interminable. The stomach sinking dread of discovery at any moment, combined with the pain which renewed exercise now brought to my wounds, making that upward crawl a thing of agonizing memory. I'd intended to climb immediately onward along whatever upper staircase might mount from there, never stopping for a last look at the carrion abominations that pawed and genuflected untold feet below me. A sudden repetition of that thunderous corpse gurgle arrived as I nearly gained the top of the flight, yet judging by its ceremonial rhythm it was mercifully not an alarm of my discovery, yet it caused me to pause and peer over the parapet in anxious horror.

Turns out the monstrosities below were hailing something which had poked out of the nauseous aperture, perhaps in response to hellish fare proffered it. Something ponderous, even as seen from my height; yellowish and hairy, it was endowed with nervous motion. It was as immense, twice as big as a hippo, and shaped with freakish inhuman foulness. It seemed to have no neck, but five separate shaggy heads sprang in a row from a roughly cylindrical trunk; the first very small, the second good-sized, the third and fourth equal and largest of all, and the fifth rather small. Out of these heads darted vile, slime soaked tentacles, which had ravenously seized the excessive quantities of unmentionable offerings thrown into the aperture. Bones and bits of bloody cloth twisted and churned in its crushing suckers. The slime which dripped to the stony floor below hissed with acidic concentration. The monster's locomotion was so inexplicable that I stared in terrible fascination, petrified it would emerge further from its cavernous dimensional lair below me.

Then it did fully emerge.. it emerged, and unfurled its bat wings and with arms outstretched and a terrible in-breath, began to grow and grown in this terrible cavern of unholy night.. and at the very sight I let out a strangled shriek, desperately turning to flee into the dark up the higher staircase that rose forever behind me; I fled unknowingly up incredible steps - and then ladders and inclined stone planes to which no human sight or logic could guide, and which I must ever relegate to the fevered world of dreams for want of any confirmation. It must have been a cosmic nightmare, or the dawn would never have found me barely breathing on the sands of Gizeh before the sardonic, dawn-flushed face of the Sphinx.

A terrible, deafening night wing suddenly flattened me against the stone, and again I feared my end had finally arrived. Impossibly large, leathery wings flapped in the limitless darkness around me; my mind, swirling and twisting in terror, imagined giant claws grasping impossibly large stone columns, marked with ancient hieroglyphics. They told an impossibly ancient tale, perhaps also simultaneously a warning, of the horrifying god beneath the earth, existing far before history and human culture - of untold sacrifices to its honor, its appetites, for its unceasing appeasement. The columns rose and rose towards the surface of the gleefully ignorant earth and - only their utmost tips appearing above the desert sand. Peircing the knowable world. And I suddenly realized these rough stone tips were the very pyramids themselves!

It was then the mental cataclysm came - hideous beyond all articulate description because it was nothing but pure soul, with nothing of detail to describe. It was the final ecstasy of nightmares and the summation of the fiendish. The suddenness of it was apocalyptic and daemoniac - one moment I was plunging agonizingly down the side of that endless wall, yet the next moment I was soaring on giant, excrement smeared bat-wings in the gulfs of the void; swooping free and through an illimitable gulf of boundless, musty space; rising dizzily to measureless pinnacles of chilling aether, before diving gaspingly to sucking nadirs of ravenous, nauseous lower vacua. Thank God for the mercy that shut out in oblivion those clawing Furies of unknowable consciousness which half unhinged my faculties, and tore Griffon-like at my spirit. That one respite, short as it was, gave me the strength and sanity to endure those still greater ever sublimations of cosmic scale panic that I knew lurked and gibbered on the road behind me; the dead earth far beneath me.

Once more, that idle question I asked myself on that quiet, sun-blessed morning before.. what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carved to represent? Accursed is the sight, be it in dream or not, that revealed to me the supreme horror and unknowable doom - the true undying God of the Dead, which licks its colossal tenticular chops in the unsuspecting abyss, fed hideous morsels by soulless absurdities that should not exist. The five-headed monstrosity that emerged, larger than a nightmare. But I survived, and I know it was only a dream.