Day 2: 31 Days of Halloween
Published Tuesday, October 02, 2007 by Jeff | E-mail this post
Today I bought a collection of short stories, Lost Worlds, by Clark Ashton Smith, the contemporary and colleague of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and one of the more influential shapers of horror fantastique. I read two stories (well, so far, before checking in here dutifully), including "The Tale of Satampra Zeiros." Here is a sample passage.
The basin, I have said, was very large; indeed, it was no less than six feet in diameter by three in depth, and its brim was the height of a tall man's shoulder from the door. The three legs that bore it were curved and massive, and terminated in the likeness of feline paws displaying their talons. When we approached and peered over the brim, we saw that the bowl was filled with a sort of viscous and semi-liquescent substance, quite opaque and of a sooty color. It was from this that the odor came--an odor which, though unsurpassably foul, was nevertheless not an odor of putrefaction, but resembled rather the smell of some vile and unclean creature of the marshes. The odor was almost beyond endurance, and we were about to turn away when we perceived a slight ebullition of the surface, as if the sooty liquid were agitated from within by some submerged animal or other entity. This ebullition increased rapidly, the center swelled as if with the action of a powerful yeast, and we watched in utter horror while an uncouth amorphous head with dull and bulging eyes arose gradually on an ever-lengthening neck, and stared us in the face with primordial malignity. Then two arms--if one could call them arms--likewise arose inch by inch, and we saw that the thing was not, as we had thought, a creature immersed in the liquid, but that the liquid itself had put forth this hideous neck and head, and was now forming these damnable arms, that groped toward us with tentacle-like appendages in lieu of claws or hand!