Guide to Moral Living in Examples: The Shores of Madness

"Madness!" I shouted at my brother. "That is what I saw in those decrepit cities of the wretched!"

"But Julius," he said calmly, "surely you were suffering from a waking dream, or from an attack of nerves. There is no such thing as Lorenth the Forgotten Citadel. The tentacled Acolytes of, what did you call him, Noddreth He Who Howls in the Chaos?"

"Do not speak his name!" I said, throwing up a finger in warning, pointing directly between my brother's disbelieving eyes. I peered around the room to make sure that a stray pseudopod from Noddreth's cursed labyrinth hadn't found its way into my brother's sitting room. "He is distant but close, dead but alive, deaf but listening. Each second he draws closer to the light and warmth of our planet! He seeks to crack it open like an egg and release us into the wastes of space! He seeks to consume our sun and make it as a rock, dead and lifeless!"

My brother patted my shoulder. His thin mustache did little to conceal the smirk that tugged at the edges of his mouth.

"I did not come here to be condescended to!" I burst out, writhing from his grasp and diving headlong through a plate glass window.

Noddreth He Who Howls in the Chaos did not destroy men directly. He turned them against each other, drove them mad. Madness is allowing an assailant freedom until he has crowned you with a club and absconded with your purse!

My brother unable to help me, I urinated behind an oak tree and considered my options. My uncle would likely call my brother if I made an appearance there. Who, then? Who was sane enough to help a madman?

"Aha!" I said aloud, and dashed off towards my salvation, pausing mid-stride to halt my bladder and prevent further ruination of my shoes.

Hours later, sweaty and caked with a layer of mud and pine needles which made me appear like one of those terrible and awesome lizards of a bygone age, I emerged in the immaculately disordered garden of my grandmother. I found her garden door unlatched, and I entered to find her seated beside her decanter, full of a viscous amber liquid. She held up a hand to pause her nephew, a man as tall as he was broad, who came by in the afternoons to read her the papers.

"Grandchild, what can I do for you?" she asked, staring at me with sightless eyes.

"Grandmother, how did you know it was I?" I asked her in return.

"It does not take a blind woman's heightened senses to detect your peculiar aroma. How much deer hookey did you trod into my carpet?"

"I did not step in any deer - oh my. I apologize. Quite a bit, actually. I shall have that cleaned up after I tell you what must be told! To convey to you the truth that must not be considered a lie!"

Grandmother, ever the wise woman, pursued her lips and waved at me to continue.

"Last night I heard the cry of Noddreth He Who Howls in the Chaos!"

"And what does that sound like?"

"I cannot repeat it to you, for you may go deaf from the cacophonous notes!"

"But you did not?"

I ignored the question. Although I consider my grandmother a great ally, she could wander into a thick wood and wonder where the forest lie, despite her nostrils filling with the aroma of deer hookey.

"I require money to hire a boat to take me to Egypt at once and join the excavations there! I have discovered evidence that the Egyptians may have faced the threat of Noddreth He Who Howls in the Chaos and stayed the execution of the planet!"

"What is necessary to destroy this Noddreth?" she asked, finishing off her drink and decanting another.

"He cannot be destroyed, for to attack the abyss is to fall into the abyss, but we can cloak ourselves once more to use his own weapons of confusion and mystery to our advantage!" I cried.

"I don't think that the voyage is safe. What if Noddreth attacks while you are exposed in the ocean?"

"It won't matter, for his assault will leave no survivors whether by land or by sea! At least this way we have a fighting chance at avoiding extinction!"

"Then you have not convinced me that a voyage is worth it. With Noddreth's power I doubt very much that any human machinations will have any influence on his consumption of this planet. I wish to enjoy my remaining days with my remaining funds. And if you please, arrange to have this deer hookey cleaned by next week. The odor offends me. And come by tomorrow for tea."

"But grandmother!"

She had already waved for her nephew to continue reading and I could not fit a word in around his booming announcements of the winning horses.

"Drat!" I said aloud as I stepped out onto the pavement in front of her house.

Two miscreants assaulted me, mumbling something about debts owed to a certain den of iniquity, a place where I had certainly never been. Picking myself up off of the cobblestones and doing my best to remove the horse hookey from my suit, the sun dimmed and the cry of Noddreth He Who Howls in the Chaos filled my ears!

Noddreth cracked open the Earth by stepping on it. Great gouts of the molten blood of the planet gushed out into coldest space. Noddreth consumed the Sun, reducing it to a burnt-out husk in a matter of millennia. As he sailed from this galaxy, Noddreth He Who Howls in the Chaos cursed the dead cinder of our planet for he could not remove the smell of deer hookey from his six dozen nostrils.

The Moral: watch where you walk.

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