The Temple of the Worm

The Temple of the Worm

By Glenn Winkelmann Jr. on Oct 30th, 2012

I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.” – Aleister Crowley

 I

The dim rays of a gibbous moon cast lonesome shadows that stretched across the sleeping valley, and the wind poured between the trees, rustling the reeds of the marshy plains into spasmodic disarray. An overcast began to mount, and a lurid discoloration of the landscape highlighted the amber lanterns proceeding upthe forested trails leading towardthefrost capped mountain. It was amid this concourse that I kept my identity a secret, for I was disguised in a waxen mask, my hands were gloved, and I was hidden under the veil of an enormous robe; all giving me the genuine appearance of being one of them. We darted this way and that, silently slithering through the reeds of the encumbering marsh.

Ahead of me some of the figures were bipedal and lumbering, while others still were leaping incessantly on all fours. I was disquieted and wholly fearful of my company, but I was confident still under my mask, which was a mixture of wax, charms, and feathers, and concealed my face from the suspicious. I intercepted their secret summons and now, upon this evening, I would follow them to the site of their sinister worship. I was emotionally prepared for the engagement of whatever horrors may lie dormant in the porous caverns they would lead me to, and was equipped with various religious and explosive apparatus to protect me.

Upon completion of my mission all of their esoteric hideousness in that vaulted catacomb of ghoulish festivity would remain a blissfully ignorant subject to the populations which lived in the towns adjacent. A convergence began at a series of focusing trails ahead of the mob which lead to an entrance of some kind. It was a monumental oak tree complimented by a stone aperture, lit by lantern, leading downwards. A number of the procession began to disappear at this point. It was then I was assaulted by the hideous odors of strange incense, and vague connotations of sulfur.

It was overwhelming to me and, try as I might, I could not withstand the urge to clear my lungs of the foul air. I released a cough which, to my dismay, caused a mass cessation of our progression. The lanterns were immediately snuffed around me and, with a mind as of the birds, that sinuous gathering of night-terrors stopped immediately and, upon that instance, converged to apprehend me. I could feel my senses being robbed of natural order whilst they motioned to me in identical patterns of movement. As I ran in stark horror from them I realized I could not discern a single sound.

There was not a reverberation, nor a splash or patter from the downpour, or a howl from the gusting winds which spun their cloaks around madly. The focus of my anguish was upon the cowled supplicant gaining upon me, it’s painted eyes reverberate with the inky blackness of the void. The subtle twitching of it’s neck and head towards the left repeatedly increased in speed as it drew closer. It was then that a disembodied voice, hailing from the depths themselves, shattered the placid reticence and betrayed my sanity. It must have said more, but the first utterance was enough to rob me of my consciousness:

“Albert Curwen… at last.

II

Clara and I were unaware that the island of Camille housed a cult who held a cabalistic veneration for the deceased. We would often seclude ourselves from the offensive torment of society within the same forests where their temple resided in shadow. Our attendance to the subtle nuances of nature and introspective conversation would culture in us a lasting bond, and it was under the cool rays of a thinly waning moon that we first heard the flutes. Piping from the abyss of the forest around us were the feeble moans which grew louder in a chorus that threatened to deafen us. The cacophony of dreadful melodies sounded fiendish in design as from the lungs of nameless, despondent creatures.

The wind carried the piping’s southward towards the town of Camille which, as tradition dictates, would react with utmost immediacy. Orange glows in the window panes would swiftly be snuffed out; curtains would diminish the silhouettes of reading men or playing children; the bells would toll in all the churches; the electric street lights would cease immediately and the dogs would howl and roar. It was only after the annual concert of those drifting harmonies of hellish intricacy did we learn that winter had arrived. We lived in a remote cabin nestled between two rocky alcoves, bombarded by the sombre glacial winds.

Clara would paint surreal dream-scapes that illustrated the suggestion of nightmarish haunts, or vistas of ulterior architecture of star bound civilizations while I, rested in our study beside the fireplace mantle, would strike out passages and narratives upon my typewriter. For many weeks we lived in creative duality and complimented each others works. Occasionally we switched roles: I practiced my hand at the brush whilst she studied the finer theories of written expression. The image of her long auburn hair swirling in the night wind stayed with me as we watched in worried anticipation upon the crest of the forested hills. Illuminated between the enormous trees were the fiery eyes of some sinister line of marchers, moving towards our residence with startling speed.

Her face twisted into a look of fright which confused me as I had not hear what she did – howls of an inhuman aesthetic resonating from that direction. It was upon that Yuletide night that our humble existence was transformed into a violent disarray as our cabin was besieged by a cowled throng of chanting celebrants. Any rigid weaponry I could muster was used to assail the cackling procession of gaunts which steadily gained territory in our tiny housing. As I was backed into the study Clara cowered behind my shoulders.

I struck one of the advancing figures with ease. The waxen mask was dislodged from what should have been its head but, instead, revealed a terrifying void of vacant space. I do not recall fainting, but I awoke in confusion and startled panic some time later in the bed of a hospital renowned in Camille. The nurses spoke to me considerately but when I inquired about the whereabouts of my lover she only shook her head in resigned ignorance. It took a group of orderlies to restrain me to my bed as I spat and roared. My pledge to return to those forests and find the responsible sect must have been heard throughout the whole of the town.

III

 

My current predicament became startlingly clear to me as I wrestled myself to consciousness. I was locked to a dank stone wall by rusted chain. My surroundings were decrepit and sinister: a lantern fixed to a sinewy rope bobbed in the current of freezing subterranean air from the ducts adjacent to me. As I gradually relaxed myself and adjusted to that chamber of deviltry I began to analyze it more clearly. There was blood caked into the cyclopean walls, and the domed ceiling of brick and mortar dripped with an opalescent liquid.

It took me too long to ascertain that directly ahead of me was an altar of black stone over which the lantern circled in suspension. In the foreground were iron bars flanked by pillars of an unsettlingly ancient architecture. Out of my immediate surroundings I could discern no sound. Not a footstep nor a procession nor chanting nor the familiar moans of the flutes. I remained mercifully ignorant for the majority of my imprisonment of the skeletons chained directly to my sides upon the same wall, which only near the end twisted my nerves into a stark pandemonium of terror.

I was completely unclothed and robbed of my apparatus and disguise, defenselessly strung up in that temple of untold horrors. It took ages for the scene of my torment to change, for as the days rolled on I grew famished and delirious. My struggles had dislodged the bones of my wrists from my hands and, resigning to my presumed death, I began to pray for the duration of my sparse waking moments. When they entered the dungeon I cannot recall. I awoke to the clattering of equipment and the stealthy infiltration of shelving into my prison.

Around me were ghoulish figures of a frighteningly monstrous design. Their stretched gray skin hugged tightly to withering or entirely dislodged bones and eyeless sockets of blackness stared upon me. Their gnarled fingers clutched violently to scrolls and tomes only legend spake of. The altar, previously unoccupied, now housed a slender and tall corpse which was wrapped in embroidered velvet. The rigid cadaver was bathed in what appeared to be salts while flanked by recently lit candles which bore green flames.

The lantern in suspension was removed, in its place now a sigil of antiquity which chilled my very soul upon recollection of it’s implication. The veneration of the corpse by these necromantic blasphemers was nigh impossible for me to bear watching for, in a ritual of respected traditions, they began to read in the most hollow and gelatinous voices from the literature they possessed. The room grew colder than any winter I felt. The previously absent flutes began to besiege us in a hurried chorus of broken notes. Their hollow eyes flexed in unnameable expressions of contempt for me as their words began to pour outward, revealing to me their desire to return the corpse upon the altar to a mockery against the living.

I screamed in protest and shrank backward up the wall as the stirring motions of that carrion thing began to part the velvet. It rose up to survey the room, rotting and degenerated, and cried out for a familiar name. Upon that moment a gale of torturous wind assailed us from the ducts, and dispersed what remained of her auburn hair into the air. 

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The Purtian

The Puritan

By Glenn Winkelmann Jr. on Jan 30th, 2013

A crown of thorns is still a crown.”

He realized that the rituals of mysteries performed around him were not fit for his intellect, but for the minds of weaker willed individuals. Yet there was no doubt that Ambrose had succumb to a singular intoxication for the festivities that he proclaimed to be so far above. Unfortunately, if he had not resigned himself to his own insignificance in the ceremony as a mere acolyte, he might now be the one adorning the pillar of fire, or might even be the masked supplicant leading the ceremony known as the ‘Birth of Totengott’. But because of his disillusion from the sect which he pronounced as juvenile he shall never attain such titles with them, or lead them to proper enlightenment.

But how was it that he harboredsuch contempt for the oneswho had before lessened it? That sinuous gathering of night-worshipers was very disquieting, and the more he lingered with their company, the more it was he felt a sense of shuddering awe. And, indeed, it was awe that inspired adesire in him to achieve a particular transformation into the being known as Totengott the Puritan. To accept him is to become him; his assimilation into your person is but a subtle change in perspective and in aspect. Within all does he rest, and within all will he awaken. And Ambrose achieved this when he finished immersing himself in the delight of decay and rot, of disease and pestilence. His vestments were but tattered cloth, his residence was a thatched thing of straw, mud, and mortar atop a foundation built from theruins of a pig farm. And, he gathered from the farthest reaching corners of the colony all things which reflected in his eyes the understanding, or dare he say, the beauty, of death. The ‘yard‘, (if such a title could be bestowed upon a field of mud, sty, and dissolved farmhouses) wasdecorated with the corpses of half feasted animals. Upon the edges of the roof he hung the bones of all things human or animal he could find, and from the ceiling interior he had strewn the dried hides of children to which the townsfolk looked for in vain. And he had placed the jars of their eyes, heads, hearts and hands in various stages of dissolution upon the windowsill to be admired by the guests that supplicated him daily.

From his venerable Tartarus he would entertain guests of an utmost enjoyable caste. To the murderers, rapists, serial arsonists, occultists and witches his doors were always open. And to engage in colloquy with the foulest of the world’s inhabitants was the highlight of his life, to which his sound sleep would recall to him the particular moments of enlightening conversation. And, finally, through all of his being there festered a gruesome contentment. But it did not last. How could it? He realized that his passions ran deeper than any others, and that such efforts were never made by the ceremonious ghouls which had been his kinsfolk for so long. Their trivial, surface scratching on the edge of the cosmic threshold was – to him – akin to reading the title of a book, and claiming to know it’s full contents.

And it was this ignorance – this placid denial of the deeper intricacies of his religion – that the colony showed him over time. And that is where such contempt was formed that Ambrose, in a moment of realization, opted to dissolve himself of any responsibilities in their sect and to star in his own ceremony, on his own stage, on a day of his choosing. Still, if not for these lepers, would he not be in a gibbet on the northern side of town, presented as a supper which even the crows would refuse? His first encounter with the colony was many years ago. Centuries, perhaps. It was on a parched, freezing, evening solstice that he crawled on all fours through the brambles and undergrowth of a dense pine forest, flayed and weary, shackles dragged behind him in the frozen mud. Over his head were the darting arrows of red light, cast from the pursuers not far behind him. The condemned know of little else but the desire to survive. And so, with the last vestiges of his strength, he refused to consent defeat, but pulled himself forward through the frozen wastes to find a new home.

The righteous mob stopped their pursuit and turned back home, so that he could rise and limp the rest of the way towards the colony he had heard so much about. Upon mounting the crest of a summit, he witnessed in awe the gyrations of their Yuletide rites which inspired in him a sense of wonder. In the chlorotic glare of a sickly fire there were throngs of naked figures groveling in a foreign tongue to a pillar of flame, clung to the shape of some amorphously sinister creation of wood and leaves, an ignorant interpretation of what he should come to worship. But upon this sight he fell madly in love, adoring the intricacies of their heretical worship. Weary and wounded, fatigued from his escape from that dungeon cell, Ambrose stripped himself of all clothes, ran towards the pillar, and joined the sect in dance. He would have held their hands in merriment had they possessed any.

And, now, the preparations were complete for his ceremony… that is, all except one striking difference between him and the congregation he would speak to: his skin was too pure. To become something ethereal, something drowned in the essence of distilled life, he would need to embrace the diseased rot of that mongrel colony. So he strove to wed a wife, a leprous thing with bony limps and boiled skin, which would assuredly bestow upon him the blessing of her condition. It did not take long to persuade a dying woman of the benefits from taking his hand, for she would be privy to untold splendor.

Ambrose, concealed in a costume that hid his rotting flesh, was assured of his transcendence to ‘pure’ worship. He observed in contentment as a pillar – amorphously shaped, and sinfully disparaged – was lit by his own followers. The spasmodic shadows cast gnarled patterns from the burnt oak trees which swayed in the night wind. From under the lichens, from within untold crypts, and from between the trees there oozed the throngs of dancing revels; mad, noiseless ghouls of the dragging dead. They adorned the pillar of sickly fire and spun in hideous gyrations as the drums began to sound, precipitating as they did the flutes to echo from the abyss in droning keys. He lifted his hands into the air and began to preach. And preach he did, as fluently as one would expect, for as he held his sermon there spoke the voice of no man, but of Totengott the Puritan.

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Starless Nights

Starless Nights

Written by Glenn Winkelmann Jr. on September 28th, 2012

Only when it is waning upon the horizon on starless nights, pouring its pale beams over the ripples of the Nile, do the Sheiks whisper hideously of the Legend of the Moon. Sheiks whose curious ages are but a crease in time compared to the echoing void of life. Frigid winds poured over the mossy fields of the cooling earth whilst creatures of unnameable aesthetic crawled reluctantly into the Stygian tunnels and vaulted crypts of the Great Mountain, progenitors to the forms which grazed nervously from the vegetation soaked into the fibers of the fields. And from the oceans of time immemorial came the hum of pleased creators, with the echoing toll of bells from their temples signifying the dawn of a new age.

The final gusts of the star winds swept over the vales of abandoned primordial cities whose inhuman secrets rested in peaceful ignorance. With their knees shaking as they felt ground beneath their feet for the first time mankind rose as the successors to the beings outcast into isolation since times long forgotten. Over the course of aeons man became a collective; forming tribes and settlements and congregations, seeking to worship the only thing they could see upon the sky worthy of their praise– the infantile blood red sun which soared the heavens in solitude.


The Great Mountain was silhouetted insidiously upon the horizon, rumored to be the prison of predecessors of man. Amorphous and without sight the remnants of the royal, the profound, the entitled, the noble and the proud of their kind crawled through the lichens of the earth and sapped the moisture from Precambrian stones and huddled together in absolute darkness, starved of warmth and of the sun which had now shed its bloodied form as it adopted the comfort of orange and yellow hues in accordance to the thankful host that worshiped it upon the Earth. And from the pores of the earth they who were doomed to rot eternally beneath humanity grew in contempt and in jealousy.


It is written in particularly sinister books as truth that from atop the very peak of the Great Mountain the forgotten ones made their announcement, their oath, that they would return some day and take all that they had been robbed of from the world of men and the creators who cast them aside. Upon this pledge there rose once again the cacophony of bells from the placid blue void, the hellish echos of judgment called out from the waves as the waters began to boil with the rage of displeased creators. Men watched in agonized horror as the whole of the Great Mountain was torn from the face of the horizon, lifted as a feather into the sky, only to be expunged effortlessly up into the indifferent void. Nothing remained of the civilization lost to time except their fate, and of the Great Mountain there remained nothing to prove it had ever been at all. As the sun retreated and the last of dusk bled into the starkness of evening there floated listlessly an unrecognized and foreign spherical dome upon the night sky compressed together as of from an immeasurable mass of dirt and rock.


And as their story concluded, and as the children pondered as their eyelids grew heavy, the Sheiks looked up with nervous apprehension upon the moon which hung somnolent against the weeping stars. Their oath to return was remembered, cursing the wise with another sleepless night.

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Altars of Dun

Altars of Dun

 Written by Glenn Winkelmann Jr. on  October 17, 2010

Above the gnarled trees of Dun hung the thin waning moon, pouring its pale beams between horned branches, casting crawling shadows upon the uniform pits which lay below. Stygian crypts exhaled miasmal vapors of earths inner secrets, which collected around their summits of disheveled dirt and dry, aged bones. Archaic carvings of amorphous creatures and ragged, Satyr like deities rested amidst the crude courtyard, and upon the whole place there lingered a vague hum despite no current of wind or physical activity. Pillars of immemorial years slept under fantastic patterns of vines, among which slept little gray apes whose dreams were restless. The columns arched backward upon their bases as the centuried pillars extended along the flattened earth, and among the canopy of endless trees that ascended upon the mountains was, weathered and half obliterated, the gigantic altar which stood as a testament to ages long forgotten.

The Keeper knew nothing of what the altar stood for, as he was young and restless, accustom only to the monotonous task of servicing those graves. Upon the end of each strenuous evening of thankless digging the Keeper would look longingly upward to that aged monument, and wish that he could visit it’s peak to see the lost and beautiful vistas of the world which might lay beyond. It was from atop that very architecture that sat the Elder sat, looking wishfully down upon the forests of Dun, and it’s curious leaping apes and archaic ruins, hoping that one day his weary and dying body could carry him down to that land which he always dreamed of. For untold aeons he played his viol; his mournful songs reminded him of days he could not remember, but neither fully forget. And for penance the Keeper dug in equal measures of time, until at last both men could no longer contain their spirits. And so, each set out, leaving behind their instruments as they undertook their journeys.

The Elder picked up the shovel and began to dig. The Keeper was weeping as he sat down to learn the viol.

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