The Visitor (23) 

The Visitor (23)

The Story of the Pseudo-Egnis

(2006 note: there follows a crudely biro-drawn image (within quote marks) depicting a moonface with glasses and a very long beard and average-length black hair and two fangs and a mole on the left cheek.)

“Is *that* it??” queried and requeried the gathered shop steward and his braying union.

That’s all I really need to say, replied Etepsed-Egnis, it is an encapsulation…


…of my potential story, a symbol of its undeniable essence…


However, if you wish I will give you the whole story since your small minds cannot contain the infinite strands and their inessence…


The encapsulation is a symbol of the Despete union. As a few words of introduction to the story, I will explain that Des Lewis and Peter Jeffery met years ago in Lancaster University library. Trumpets blared and Royalty bowed as the Des climbed the spiral stairs to the third floor foyer where the Pete sat and waited for the most important event in literary history. The Vice Chancellor of the University opened the door for DFL and the latter, dressed as a herald with huge posthorn, recognised his goal – PFJ dressed as St George. The pomp and circumstance died away as the memorable event took place! PFJ rose and bowed before the master, they shook hands and cheers rent the air. All knew that Despete was complete and the Etepsed-Egnis / Egnisomicon mythos was about to begin. The Des drew from his pocket a slightly foxed manuscript , some schoolboy effort at literature. The dear boy wanted the Pete’s opinion! Does not the scene want to make you weep?

My entry to the story competition, humble though it be, is the schoolboy story that DFL showed to PFJ on that historic day:


The silver air of Christmas swirled, cascaded, eddied in vortices – through the grimy streets, the bleak buildings, the murky river, the gnarled trees – as titanic bats flapped overhead. Little children, expectant, eager, awake, stared through the darkness, peering for the whisky-bleared eyes of Santa Claus who coughs and splutters through his annual task waiting for eternity to liberate him. Childish men and women hung puffy balloons, silver –crusted tassels and globular bobbles from the groping branches of a fir-tree.

Everything was in a state of expectation, everything that is except Pedro Caillan who just existed without either remembering or predicting anything: no subtle hues decorated his one-roomed apartment; no loud colours clashed and crashed the heavy atmosphere; no light broke up the blackness, the continual blackness: the only tangible element was darkness which one could even feel. It caressed, curled around and shrouded Pedro’s lump of a body bitten into by the deep rivets of indolence. Although the sense of sight felt no change in this room, the sense of hearing could have much food for thought; moans, sickly, thick, slippery with saliva, vibrated in every corner of the room and of Pedro’s frame; scratchings, made by the filth-encrusted nails of sweaty rats, dinned through the air; and unknown sounds, hideous and with mysterious terror lurking behind them, cracked and murmured. The unwholesomeness evidenced itself through every faculty of the human body, but Pedro’s body remained oblivious of it: I say ‘body’, but that of Pedro was more like a slobby mass of red, raw meat.

Outside this house that contained this cancerous corruption, normal life rolled on its course, unaware of the contagion within. Birth and death were neighbours; love and hate; sorrow and joy; tragedy and comedy; the budding of nature when sap bursts forth and the earth baked with frost; Spring and Autumn; Summer and Winter; progress and decadence. Pedro was not a part of life or should I say he was not a part of the two lives – for this life we lead is divided into two; youth and age. Youth is replete with over-bearing joy and fertility when gay streamers and soft balloons dance in Summer breezes. But the shrill brilliance of youth gradually dematerializes and is replaced with the oily fog of age gnawing at the core of one’s being. Not far from that house, Harry Lucas bent over the sickle, caressing the smooth grain of the handle as it sliced the air with each whisk of his hand. Little did he know but he had only three days to live – three days to ‘desickle’ himself, to free himself from human bondage. Unsympathetic, unloving, unlovable, his wife froze his small insignificant body with an icy stare. Uncaring, heedless, she scratched the dying rage of his flesh, prized open each of his veins mapped out over his body. The asperity, the acerbity of the soil stung the cracks forking over his gnarled, skinless lumps of hand. Rivulets of sweat trickled geographically down his face – his face, consisting of one long, red nose, two brown sockets through which life glimmered faintly and one black hollow of a mouth. Still young, fresh, Susan Lucas shouted crisply:

“Dinner Time!”

“OK, Susan.”

The answer was muted having an air of desolation permeating its tonality. His short stumps stumbled over the sterile field, the strides having lost their youthful suppleness and having gained an aged rigidity, a near paralysis. Time is a destroyer. It destroyed Harry Lucas as he lived a normal life, but it also destroyed Pedro Caillan as he lived an abnormal life.

The mist of memory clears away: the past, usually replete with vague connotations, is clarified and reality takes control. Harry Lucas sucks at a thin, white cigarette, consciously blowing smoke-rings into the bluey air. At this moment in time Lucas has seen twenty-five years’ hard work on his Father’s farm – which will be his very soon. Susan Lucas lets out a deep sigh, echoing within her frame, causing Lucas to follow suit. Sunday is the day and Lucas is having his weekly rest, a rest which grates against his nature. As he sits up in a large, soft armchair, his thoughts wander in other directions: ‘the pigs can be taken on but what about Fred he must go I wish Susan wouldn’t stare fields relax boy can’t you feel the mellowness of the soil cheese photographs what about my holidays none delicious stench of steaming dung remember to clear out the pigs’ 6 O’clock tomorrow relax boy relax relax cows foals…’

“Shall we go to the pictures, then?’ grunted Susan.

“Must go to bed early.”

“We never go anywhere.”

Pedro Caillan gulped down another whisky.

Harry Lucas spiked another haycake.

Pedro is born. The uniform, white walls reflect the golden light spewed by the bulbous globes strung from the blotchy ceiling. White-clad humans fondle the young animal which pules and pukes at them. Skin-clad bones swim in the air of his new world. Young thoughts mass in his head, unknown by the leather-skinned humans and by Pedro: ‘blurred blurs blur my retina and undimensional dimensions from the BEYOND crag boulder pulling power the gate opens and shuts I am out ethereality to reality sense to nonsense sluice-gates I am being animalized I feel fate placing his Nemetic hand on me I will be back in seventy years or so I will follow the straight and narrow Fate’s channel breasting the sluice-gates darkness seems to be destined for me darkness and thick indolence rat-scratching silence transmigration to the BEYOND unholy dreams haycaked spikes are not for me lake parties NO joy NO life NO stagnation YES Lovecraftian literature YES…’

“Is that HP Lovecraft?”

Ignoring the stupid interpolation, Etepsed-Egnis continued the story:

… ‘I feel air swelling my lungs as sounds burst from my lips formless forms and voiceless voices surround me clumsy hands clutch my animalized form I am born ready to be dragged through Fate’s scheme images from the fourth dimension and passing through the sixth sense are also born to bud later in the scheme of things.’

Lucas sits and then stands waiting for the vital news. He hopes it is a boy as then he will be able to pass the farm on to him when death wrings the breath from his lungs in the distant future. A baby cry echoes down the stairs and Lucas remains standing four feet from the foot of the stairs for about ten seconds and then, ZOOOOOOOOOOM! Lucas runs four steps at a time into the upper part of the rickety farmhouse.

“Shh!” hissed the doctor, popping his head around the door.

“How is she?” croaked Lucas.


“Boy or girl?”


Happiness mingled with disappointment lights up his face, the latter quickly disappearing behind the sunshine of joy and gratitude to God.”

“Can I see her?”

“Only for a few minutes.”

He clutched the handle of the door and gently turned it.

“How are you, darling?”

“I’ll struggle through.”

“Is that her?”

He outstretched his hand and gingerly touched the pulsing body of the baby.

“Yes, it’s real allright, and what I went through to get it!”

After saying these words, Susan fell asleep letting out a deep sigh and leaving Lucas to his own thoughts: ‘Tina Roberta or Daisy no Mary farm no son for farm Tina’s husband? Susan looks tired she’s been through a lot no housework for her for many weeks’.

Pedro, ten years old, is dreaming: ‘trees clog the sky no light vine-encumbered trees twist and twine overhead underfoot soggy moss sucks at my toeless feet alone alone I breathe unwholesome terror filled air I live in this spectral forest in a wooden shack with my father my wifeless father my lonely father day in day out woodtasks night in night out dreamless sleep on and on no natural light one day life changes for my father a worm with a human face plurps over our floor shock changes to delight in my father’s face wetglueslimy wormbody nestles nudgingly into the sweat of my father’s palm as he strokes it glee gleams from glinting eyes bathing the wormbody in love love which my father has missed for many a stark day kiss human lips on wormbody passionate kiss passion bubbles in my father’s crisping veins every night now wormbody lies on his pillow and during the soft golden days it sleeps under the sinless bed in the corner day after day its human face leering from the unnameable darkness however one day I look under the bed: a small mound of earth has he escaped? father! father! wormdisembodied! SHOCK! Solid silence permeated by shock he shoots up the stairs 3 by 3 bed is thrown aside greengurgleglaucous shock – behind the mound of earth was a sight of cosmic nightmarishness unnameable unspeakable nameless mess – curdling, gurgling, burping, bubbling, seething, exuding a fetor reminding one of everything evil – Satan’s excrement! The metamorphosis of wormbody into the epitome of everything my father did not want in it…’ So ends the dream of a ten year old.

Lucas laughs at the antics of his little baby daughter as she romps on the floor. The beige carpet is dented in by the lively supple limbs sprouting from the babybody, and high-pitched cries resound through the household. Joy is a vital part of every molecule in the room: the brown curtains look golden; the cracks in the ceiling represent the rivers of the world; the flaking yellow wallpaper represents laughing females waving at the gurgling, burping, bubbling baby; Lucas is God admiring his good work.

“What a rotten story!” shouted Dondon, the Jeffer, who had heard it all before.

“Yes, “ agreed Chish, “it would have perhaps been much better (and much more concise) without the Lucas passages.”

“I wish we had not pushed you into the encapsulation expansion. The initial word-picture was much more satisfactory. It is strange how wonderful things grow out of such crap (i.e. Despeteology). ‘Flowers of Mud’ as Baudelaire would say,” said the Infinite Cuckoo.

So it would appear that one of the initial favourites, the pseudo-Egnis, now stood no chance when the final reckoning came.

Suddenly, a terrible scream rent the air. All turned their heads to the likely source and saw a most amusing sight. One of the antelopes mentioned at the start of the previous story, with a clapperless bell strung around his neck (in case he got lost and the farmer had to search for him through the black mountain-mists of the Onyx Field and the Meadow and Beyond), had one particularly sharp antler up poor Dondon’s bum. His huge beard quivered and his eyes rolled. He had never known such pain (even greater than a decidedly nasty tooth extraction) and he bounced and pranced to the giggles of the gathering.

“Cease!’ bellowed Infinite and he beckoned to the next story-teller.

(written 1974)

to be continued.....

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