Fort Riley, Kansas - 1966
Bear in mind that even though he was scared thoroughly out of his fern at the time and came running and stumbling down the hill from the circle of monoliths as fast as his thin, wiry legs could carry him, babbling incoherently about kirmpads, megazomes and the Curse of the Meteres, what he saw could not actually be called a horror. Indeed, that which he called up from the depths of the Pit of Veronis was one of the more benign presences which are said to appear when one chants the right formulae on certain nights.
This is verified by the fact that, although it was supposedly left free on the hill, there have been no reports these two months of any unusual happenings. This is certainly noteworthy because, even though the area is shunned at night, in the daylight it is a favorite playground of children, and the paths through the tangled underbrush are well known and trodden by the local urchin population.
To the best of my knowledge, the whole affair started when Stram Drocer paid a visit to one of his acquaintences from work, a well know colored man who is a favorite disc jockey at the local radio station where Stram and I are also employed, Jose Meteres.
Stram Drocer is openly suspected of performing secret rites during his frequent, midnight excursions to the top of Rat-Fink Hill. Great fires are seen burning apparently within the ring of monoliths known to exist at its summit.
The events of Stram Drocer's vist were related to me by Jose Meteres who is an old friend and on whose honesty I would stake my reputation. I will set down the story in Joe's own words, as accurately as I can remember them, from his telling me the same at my request during Stram Drocer's temporary madness.
"Well, Mabel all'a's said dat ol' Stram Drocers 's pretty strange. I guesses y'd hav' t' be strange t' wear one o' dem capes on de streetcar.
Anyhows, it's a couple o' months ago, about a week b'fore Hal'ween. Mabel an' me 'as cleanin' my records. She 's washin' 'em in de kitchen sink an' I'se puttin' 'em back in de boxes.
Den de ol' doorbell rings an' it's Stram Drocers. Says he come over t' say hello, sincet he been out o' town. Which ain't true by de way, sincet I been seein' him at work ever' day, even though he been actin' awful strange an' not talkin' t' nobody.
Anyhows, he comes in t' de kitchen where we is cleanin' de records. All of a sudden-like, he gets down on de floor an' looks under de stove, which kind o' srtuck me an' Mabel as bein' pretty strange until he tells us what he's after. It's an ol' book I gots from my ol' man and he got it from Granpap an' it's been comin' down sincet before we come over to dis country I guess, 'cause nobody know how we got it in de first place an' it's in some strange language.
I dunno what it is, but de name of it is called Da-moan-is Ama-zone-sis Mega-zomes, I'se looked through it lots o' times, but it don't make no sense. It's all full o' strange words like, well, one t'ing I remembers goes sorta like Lenz verono, adrovgie cradarad, scotora mule, scotora mezinny, creel conocolon alamatad or somethin' like dat. I remembers it 'cause it's one ever' page jest about.
Anyhows, ol' Strams sees dis ol' book dat we 'as usin' t' hold up de stove where de leg's busted off. He gets all excited an' asks if I kin lend him dis book for a while but I tells him if I does dat, de stoves gonna fall over. So he goes down in de cellar an' gets a couple o' pieces o' wood t' hold up de stove so we can takes de book out.
Den he opens it an' starts lookin' t'rough it, an' de more he looks de more anxious he gets an pretty soon he's offerin' t' buy it or rent it or anythin' t' get aholt of it. So I tells him dat my ol' man made me promise t' keep it in da fam'ly, 'cause it's so old an' all an' ya never know when one o' your kids might bust de leg off his stove. But I says dat ol' Strams can borry it if he brings it back in good shape. Den he goes chargin' out de door wit' it sayin 'at he's got a lot o' work t' do translatin' it.
So for de next week or so he don't show up at work none and nobody hears nothin' from him. He don't even ride de streetcar no more. But when I walks past de hill his house is on, I sees de lights burnin' late at night so's I guesses he 'as readin' dis book. But actually I guess nobody sees him 'til he come to work Hal'ween mornin'.
Since I was working at the radio station with Joe and Stram then, as I still am, I was also a witness to the strange actions Joe went on to describe.
Being, as he is, a strange and not altogether normal person, Stram Drocer always leaves a nameless chill in one's spirit after any chance meeting. I'm not absolutely certain what causes this unpleasant effect, but it is certainly connected with his dog-like face that, while perhaps passable on a dog, is striking in it's intense ugliness on a human. There is a repulsiveness that goes beyond the protruding nose and mouth, a feature which is enhanced by his chinlessness, or the large yellowish eyes that bulge loathsomely from his receding forehead. It goes beyond the fine stubble that covers not only the chin, but his whole face, exclusive of the lips and the tip of the nose.
He seems to exude the smell of the essence of evil. In fact all animals take a violent dislike to him. Flocks of birds scatter at his approach, dogs and cats cower from him in apparent terror that is pitiful to see. The watchdog at the radio station was no exception, although he had to be kept chained when Stram Drocer was working because at certain times he seemed to overcome his fear and would attempt to savagely attack the sinister little man.
This didn't last long though, for one morning, soon after Stram Drocer became connected with the station, the poor animal was found dead and stiff beside its water dish. The dish was still half full of a bubbling brownish liquid that, at the time, we all assumed was cola. No atttempt has been made to procure another dog.
One can only wonder what secrets are hidden in that small head, crowned with hair that is a curious mixture of browns, whites and blacks that is always kept covered with a small beanie. He walks with a permanent stoop that gives him the appearance of a feeble and stunted old man. Actually, he is nearly six feet tall, lean but not lacking in physical strength. Concerning the things of the natural world, he is fearless - with one notable exception. To physical strength in a white man he pays no heed, but he conspicuously avoids the great sinewy negroes who work long days at the busy wharves in nearby Ammon Cove. He showed the same dislike toward Joe Meteres and Doc Ferdinand at first, but was eventually won over by the warm personaliies of the popular announcers.
He makes it a point, though, to always stay on their good side, something which is not hard to do. Yet there is a subtly sensed fear that gives his apparent friendship and unpleasnat hint of obsequiousness.
In all other respects he is entirely defiant of danger. He habitually drives his souped-up Model "T" at daredevil speeds in the worst of traffic. And it is not at all unusual for him to enter and exit the second floor studios by way of the window and the flimsy downspout, which he climbs recklessly while his cape swirls about him creating the appearance of a huge bat-like insect.
On the morning in question, Stram Drocer's usual ugliness was enhanced by an insane grin which distorted his evil face into the mockery of a smile, as if such a face could ever smile, and exposed his long and uncommonly sharp canines. He bore an attitude of intense restlessness and went about his work with more than his normal carelessness.
While certainly not a cheerful person, for he casts an indefinable gloom over any room he enters, Stram Drocer generally answers a hearty, "Good morning!" with a muttered, "Gude morning, Howe's ye ferne?" But on that day, Black Halloween as it has come to be called, he was more preoccupied than ever, not giving any response to a casual greeting and, if stopped in the hall, allowing only a half-witheld chuckle that chilled the blood and made one sorry to have stopped him at all.
Stram Drocer had had similar spells before so no one paid much attention to it until the rumors began to circulate of the night's doings at the stone altar atop Rat-Fink Hill.
Rat-Fink Hill is the name commonly used when people talk about the odd dome-like mound that rises from the northeast extremity of the Ubangi Swamp. Anyone in the area can point it out to the interested tourist. At least a half mile in circumference at the base, it rises several hundred feet above the surrounding swamp. It appears to be a section of a huge sphere that is two thirds buried. This effect is enhanced by the fact that the undergrowth of the swamp ends abruptly at the base of the hill, exposing a smooth grayish surface which is broken only by steps roughly hewn at reqular intevals into its side.
No living resident of the area save Stram Drocer seems to know the origin of this stair. But when asked, he leers knowingly and changes the subject.
I will not dignify the Indian superstions concerning the hill by setting them down here.
On the top of the hill is group of small stone monoliths, maybe eight feet high, arranged in a rough circle about twenty feet in diameter. At the center of this circle is a crude altar built of large slabs of stone, apparently a dense and brittle shale with a high iron content resposible, no doubt, for its reddish stains, Indian legends to the contrary. Around the edges of the altar are carved groups of symbols, suggestive of mystical formulae, in some foreign tongue. Oddly, a few of these formulae seem to have been recently carved, though in the same indecipherable language.
This is the place that Stram Drocer is thought to visit on moonless nights when he disappears along the dark path leading to the swamp. It is a known fact that if someone spots Stram Drocer walking that frigtening lane at twilght with his chainsaw, later, when the glow of sunset has died and the pale stars provide the only light to outline the sinister shape of the dome, a great fire will be seen thereon with a lone, silhouetted figure slinking around it.
Halloween of that year fell on a moonless and uncommonly dark night. Stram Drocer left work at six o'clock as I can testify, for I saw him drive his Model "T" out of the parking lot at that time. When he left he was in such an agitated state that he could barely control his actions. People who happened to witness his trip home assumed the vehicle was being driven by some drunk!
Another friend and employee at the radio station, Doc Ferdinand, later saw Stram Drocer striding furtively along the path that passes his house on its way to the swamp. Along with his usual chainsaw he appeared to be carrying a book, "about the size Joe uses to hold up his stove," according to the Doctor.
Well after dark, Doc Ferdinand saw the expected blaze atop Rat-Fink Hill. He decalres it was the largest fire he has ever seen at the unholy spot. That would explain why Stram had an extra can of gasoline for his chainsaw slung across his back.
Very late in the evening, approaching midnight, he heard a strange chanting drifting from the top of the hill, which is about a mile distant from his shack. Now, it is not unusual for people to catch parts of chanted rituals on nights when the fires blaze and the wind is just right. Doc Ferdinand was quite used to these occurences. But he claimed the sound that reached him on this particular night was a strange cacophony of rhythm that seemed to awaken old and forgotten memories. This same effect of nameless recollection was noted by other negroes who happened to hear the chant though no white person experienced the feeling.
I, myself, heard the chant from a point not too far distant form the hill and am certain that it consisted of the endless repetition of the following verse that I later copied from Joe's book.
The odd chanting began about eleven o'clock and continued for nearly an hour. About midnight a vague rumbling was heard throughout the area, but whether from the sky or ground no witness is able to say. The night had begun with the stark clearness that accompanies a biting cold, but people who looked outdoors trying to locate the source of the sound, say that the sky had become obscured by a uniform haze, quite unlike the sparse clouds that may try futilely to hide the stars on such nights.
Doc Ferdinand claims to have heard a second period of rumbling about twenty minutes after and less pronounced than the first. No one else, however, noticed it. He said this is what brought him to the door when he caught sight of Stram Drocer running at breakneck speed out of the swamp.
Heedless of where he was going, he was looking fearfully behind him as if expecting some awesome presence to be at his heels. His fear was apparently unfounded for, although Doc Ferdinand stood att the open door a full five minutes, he saw nothing else on the path.
He did notice an acute and inexlicable depression which he thinks was preceded by a brief period of exhilaration. He has difficulty in describing the sensation but says it might be something like finding a pot of gold then dropping it into a bottomless pit on the way to the bank. The same type of sensation was reported by colored people who were awake at the time but, again, it was felt by no white person.
The final explanation of these events was given to me by Stram Drocer himself, shortly after his recovery from the temporary madness that began that Halloween night. Although reticent about his exact actions preceeding the horror he admts to reciting certain verses from the Daemonis Amazonis Megazome in the light of the great fire. Why he did this or what he expected as a result he refused to say.
From my own slight knowledge of the occult, I will suggest that these formulae are supposedly used to raise various evil presences from unknown gulfs of space and time. There are formulae to invoke responses of mighty dieties in answer to the questions of warlocks. These responses have various forms. They may be dreams or visions. A reply may come in the form of a flash of lightning, a crash of thunder or a violent shaking of the ground. Other formulae can summon these dieties or their messengers to the Earth or send them back to their rightful spheres. None of this, by the way, was verified by the still shaken Stram Drocer.
After some time (he continued) a cloud of extremely dense white smoke appreared within the circle of monoliths. It would writhe and pulsate with more force and shape each time the cryptic verse was repeated. Then, quite suddenly, the fire dimmed to the faint glowing of its ashes.
At this point in the story Stram Drocer would go on only with considerable urging. A figure appeared within the smoke. It was human in shape but of exceedingly large proportions, a great and powerful looking body. It seemed to contain the strength of generations of strong men. The face showed the wisdom of the aeons.
Stram Drocer recoiled in terror and forgetting the formula, he began to back away from the giant form before him.
The most striking thing about the figure was its uttter blackness, perhaps intensified in the eyes of the stricken man by its contrast with the white smoke, a blackness that could only exist in the voids beyond infinity where even the stars are too distant to be visible. The bearing of the giant displayed an unmistakable meaning of power and authority. It reminded him of the great negroes of Ammon Cove.
The apparition stepped out of the parting smoke.
At this point Stram Drocer was still in control of his senses but the string of sanity broke when the being opened its mouth to speak. It spoke not in an unknown, mystical tounge, nor by any cosmic method of thought transfer. The words which sent Stram Drocer screaming down the hill and plunging blindly through the swamp, were spoken in a clearly recognizable English dialect.
The supreme moment of horror for Stram Drocer came when the unknown presence uttered five simple words in the deep, rumbling voice of centuries. The words spoken that night as the giant, smiling, black form stepped out of the ring of monoliths on the eerie summit of that impossible hill, and before a pile of whimpering ashes that a moment before had been a roaring fire, were simply these: "Hello dere. I'se de genie!"