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Chapter 5

  • That is the world of which my dreams brought me dim, scattered echoes ever_ight. I cannot hope to give any true idea of the horror and dread containe_n such echoes, for it was upon a wholly intangible quality - the sharp sens_f pseudo-memory - that such feelings mainly depended.
  • As I have said, my studies gradually gave me a defence against these feeling_n the form of rational psychological explanations; and this saving influenc_as augmented by the subtle touch of accustomedness which comes with th_assage of time. Yet in spite of everything the vague, creeping terror woul_eturn momentarily now and then. It did not, however, engulf me as it ha_efore; and after 1922 I lived a very normal life of work and recreation.
  • In the course of years I began to feel that my experience - together with th_indred cases and the related folklore - ought to be definitely summarised an_ublished for the benefit of serious students; hence I prepared a series o_rticles briefly covering the whole ground and illustrated with crude sketche_f some of the shapes, scenes, decorative motifs, and hieroglyphs remembere_rom the dreams.
  • These appeared at various times during 1928 and 1929 in the Journal of th_merican Psychological Society, but did not attract much attention. Meanwhil_ continued to record my dreams with the minutest care, even though th_rowing stack of reports attained troublesomely vast proportions. On July 10, 1934, there was forwarded to me by the Psychological Society the letter whic_pened the culminating and most horrible phase of the whole mad ordeal. It wa_ostmarked Pilbarra, Western Australia, and bore the signature of one whom _ound, upon inquiry, to be a mining engineer of considerable prominence.
  • Enclosed were some very curious snapshots. I will reproduce the text in it_ntirety, and no reader can fail to understand how tremendous an effect it an_he photographs had upon me.
  • I was, for a time, almost stunned and incredulous; for although I had ofte_hought that some basis of fact must underlie certain phases of the legend_hich had coloured my dreams, I was none the less unprepared for anything lik_ tangible survival from a lost world remote beyond all imagination. Mos_evastating of all were the photographs - for here, in cold, incontrovertibl_ealism, there stood out against a background of sand certain worn-down, water-ridged, storm-weathered blocks of stone whose slightly convex tops an_lightly concave bottoms told their own story.
  • And when I studied them with a magnifying glass I could see all too plainly, amidst the batterrings and pittings, the traces of those vast curvilinea_esigns and occasional hieroglyphs whose significance had become so hideous t_e. But here is the letter, which speaks for itself. 49, Dampier St.,
  • Pilbarra, W. Australia, May 18, 1934.
  • Prof. N. W Peaslee,
  • c/o Am. Psychological Society,
  • 30 E. 41st St.,
  • New York City, U.S.A.
  • My Dear Sir:
  • A recent conversation with Dr. E. M. Boyle of Perth, and some papers with you_rticles which he has just sent me, make it advisable for me to tell you abou_ertain things I have seen in the Great Sandy Desert east of our gold fiel_ere. It would seem, in view of the peculiar legends about old cities wit_uge stonework and strange designs and hieroglyphs which you describe, that _ave come upon something very important.
  • The blackfellows have always been full of talk about "great stones with mark_n them," and seem to have a terrible fear of such things. They connect the_n some way with their common racial legends about Buddai, the gigantic ol_an who lies asleep for ages underground with his head on his arm, and wh_ill some day awake and eat up the world.
  • There are some very old and half-forgotten tales of enormous underground hut_f great stones, where passages lead down and down, and where horrible thing_ave happened. The blackfellows claim that once some warriors, fleeing i_attle, went down into one and never came back, but that frightful winds bega_o blow from the place soon after they went down. However, there usually isn'_uch in what these natives say.
  • But what I have to tell is more than this. Two years ago, when I wa_rospecting about 500 miles east in the desert, I came on a lot of quee_ieces of dressed stone perhaps 3 X 2 X 2 feet in size, and weathered an_itted to the very limit.
  • At first I couldn't find any of the marks the blackfellows told about, bu_hen I looked close enough I could make out some deeply carved lines in spit_f the weathering. There were peculiar curves, just like what the blackfellow_ad tried to describe. I imagine there must have been thirty or forty blocks, some nearly buried in the sand, and all within a circle perhaps a quarter of _ile in diameter.
  • When I saw some, I looked around closely for more, and made a carefu_eckoning of the place with my instruments. I also took pictures of ten o_welve of the most typical blocks, and will enclose the prints for you to see.
  • I turned my information and pictures over to the government at Perth, but the_ave done nothing about them.
  • Then I met Dr. Boyle, who had read your articles in the Joumal of the America_sychological Society, and, in time, happened to mention the stones. He wa_normously interested, and became quite excited when I shewed him m_napshots, saying that the stones and the markings were just like those of th_asonry you had dreamed about and seen described in legends.
  • He meant to write you, but was delayed. Meanwhile, he sent me most of th_agazines with your articles, and I saw at once, from your drawings an_escriptions, that my stones are certainly the kind you mean. You ca_ppreciate this from the enclosed prints. Later on you will hear directly fro_r. Boyle.
  • Now I can understand how important all this will be to you. Without questio_e are faced with the remains of an unknown civilization older than an_reamed of before, and forming a basis for your legends.
  • As a mining engineer, I have some knowledge of geology, and can tell you tha_hese blocks are so ancient they frighten me. They are mostly sandstone an_ranite, though one is almost certainly made of a queer sort of cement o_oncrete.
  • They bear evidence of water action, as if this part of the world had bee_ubmerged and come up again after long ages - all since those blocks were mad_nd used. It is a matter of hundreds of thousands of years - or heaven know_ow much more. I don't like to think about it.
  • In view of your previous diligent work in tracking down the legends an_verything connected with them, I cannot doubt but that you will want to lea_n expedition to the desert and make some archaeological excavations. Both Dr.
  • Boyle and I are prepared to cooperate in such work if you - or organization_nown to you - can furnish the funds.
  • I can get together a dozen miners for the heavy digging - the blackfellow_ould be of no use, for I've found that they have an almost maniacal fear o_his particular spot. Boyle and I are saying nothing to others, for you ver_bviously ought to have precedence in any discoveries or credit.
  • The place can be reached from Pilbarra in about four days by motor tractor - which we'd need for our apparatus. It is somewhat west and south o_arburton's path of 1873, and 100 miles southeast of Joanna Spring. We coul_loat things up the De Grey River instead of starting from Pilbarra - but al_hat can be talked over later.
  • Roughly the stones lie at a point about 22° 3' 14" South Latitude, 125° 0' 39"
  • East Longitude. The climate is tropical, and the desert conditions are trying.
  • I shall welcome further correspondence upon this subject, and am keenly eage_o assist in any plan you may devise. After studying your articles I am deepl_mpressed with the profound significance of the whole matter. Dr. Boyle wil_rite later. When rapid communication is needed, a cable to Perth can b_elayed by wireless.
  • Hoping profoundly for an early message,
  • Believe me,
  • Most faithfully yours,
  • Robert B.F. Mackenzie
  • Of the immediate aftermath of this letter, much can be learned from the press.
  • My good fortune in securing the backing of Miskatonic University was great, and both Mr. Mackenzie and Dr. Boyle proved invaluable in arranging matters a_he Australian end. We were not too specific with the public about ou_bjects, since the whole matter would have lent itself unpleasantly t_ensational and jocose treatment by the cheaper newspapers. As a result, printed reports were sparing; but enough appeared to tell of our quest fo_eported Australian ruins and to chronicle our various preparatory steps.
  • Professor William Dyer of the college's geology department - leader of th_iskatonic Antarctic Expedition Of 1930-31 - Ferdinand C. Ashley of th_epartment of ancient history, and Tyler M. Freeborn of the department o_nthropology - together with my son Wingate - accompanied me.
  • My correspondent, Mackenzie, came to Arkham early in 1935 and assisted in ou_inal preparations. He proved to be a tremendously competent and affable ma_f about fifty, admirably well-read, and deeply familiar with all th_onditions of Australian travel.
  • He had tractors waiting at Pilbarra, and we chartered a tramp steame_ufficiently small to get up the river to that point. We were prepared t_xcavate in the most careful and scientific fashion, sifting every particle o_and, and disturbing nothing which might seem to be in or near its origina_ituation.
  • Sailing from Boston aboard the wheezy Lexington on March 28, 1935, we had _eisurely trip across the Atlantic and Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea, and across the Indian Ocean to our goal. I need not tell ho_he sight of the low, sandy West Australian coast depressed me, and how _etested the crude mining town and dreary gold fields where the tractors wer_iven their last loads.
  • Dr. Boyle, who met us, proved to be elderly, pleasant, and intelligent - an_is knowledge of psychology led him into many long discussions with my son an_e.
  • Discomfort and expectancy were oddly mingled in most of us when at length ou_arty of eighteen rattled forth over the arid leagues of sand and rock. O_riday, May 31st, we forded a branch of the De Grey and entered the realm o_tter desolation. A certain positive terror grew on me as we advanced to thi_ctual site of the elder world behind the legends - a terror, of course, abetted by the fact that my disturbing dreams and pseudo-memories still bese_e with unabated force.
  • It was on Monday, June 3rd, that we saw the first of the half-buried blocks. _annot describe the emotions with which I actually touched - in objectiv_eality - a fragment of Cyclopean masonry in every respect like the blocks i_he walls of my dream-buildings. There was a distinct trace of carving - an_y hands trembled as I recognised part of a curvilinear decorative scheme mad_ellish to me through years of tormenting nightmare and baffling research.
  • A month of digging brought a total of some 1250 blocks in varying stages o_ear and disintegration. Most of these were carven megaliths with curved top_nd bottoms. A minority were smaller, flatter, plain-surfaced, and square o_ctagonally cut-like those of the floors and pavements in my dreams - while _ew were singularly massive and curved or slanted in such a manner as t_uggest use in vaulting or groining, or as parts of arches or round windo_asings.
  • The deeper - and the farther north and east - we dug, the more blocks w_ound; though we still failed to discover any trace of arrangement among them.
  • Professor Dyer was appalled at the measureless age of the fragments, an_reeborn found traces of symbols which fitted darkly into certain Papuan an_olynesian legends of infinite antiquity. The condition and scattering of th_locks told mutely of vertiginous cycles of time and geologic upheavals o_osmic savagery.
  • We had an aëroplane with us, and my son Wingate would often go up to differen_eights and scan the sand-and-rock waste for signs of dim, large-scal_utlines - either differences of level or trails of scattered blocks. Hi_esults were virtually negative; for whenever he would one day think he ha_limpsed some significant trend, he would on his next trip find the impressio_eplaced by another equally insubstantial - a result of the shifting, wind- blown sand.
  • One or two of these ephemeral suggestions, though, affected me queerly an_isagreeably. They seemed, after a fashion, to dovetail horribly wit_omething I had dreamed or read, but which I could no longer remember. Ther_as a terrible familiarity about them - which somehow made me look furtivel_nd apprehensively over the abominable, sterile terrain toward the north an_ortheast.
  • Around the first week in July I developed an unaccountable set of mixe_motions about that general northeasterly region. There was horror, and ther_as curiosity - but more than that, there was a persistent and perplexin_llusion of memory.
  • I tried all sorts of psychological expedients to get these notions out of m_ead, but met with no success. Sleeplessness also gained upon me, but I almos_elcomed this because of the resultant shortening of my dream-periods. _cquired the habit of taking long, lone walks in the desert late at night- usually to the north or northeast, whither the sum of my strange new impulse_eemed subtly to pull me.
  • Sometimes, on these walks, I would stumble over nearly buried fragments of th_ncient masonry. Though there were fewer visible blocks here than where we ha_tarted, I felt sure that there must be a vast abundance beneath the surface.
  • The ground was less level than at our camp, and the prevailing high winds no_nd then piled the sand into fantastic temporary hillocks - exposing lo_races of the elder stones while it covered other traces.
  • I was queerly anxious to have the excavations extend to this territory, yet a_he same time dreaded what might be revealed. Obviously, I was getting into _ather bad state - all the worse because I could not account for it.
  • An indication of my poor nervous health can be gained from my response to a_dd discovery which I made on one of my nocturnal rambles. It was on th_vening of July 11th, when the moon flooded the mysterious hillocks with _urious pallor.
  • Wandering somewhat beyond my usual limits, I came upon a great stone whic_eemed to differ markedly from any we had yet encountered. It was almos_holly covered, but I stooped and cleared away the sand with my hands, late_tudying the object carefully and supplementing the moonlight with my electri_orch.
  • Unlike the other very large rocks, this one was perfectly square-cut, with n_onvex or concave surface. It seemed, too, to be of a dark basaltic substance, wholly dissimilar to the granite and sandstone and occasional concrete of th_ow familiar fragments.
  • Suddenly I rose, turned, and ran for the camp at top speed. It was a wholl_nconscious and irrational flight, and only when I was close to my tent did _ully realise why I had run. Then it came to me. The queer dark stone wa_omething which I had dreamed and read about, and which was linked with th_ttermost horrors of the aeon-old legendry.
  • It was one of the blocks of that basaltic elder masonry which the fabled Grea_ace held in such fear - the tall, windowless ruins left by those brooding, half-material, alien things that festered in earth's nether abysses an_gainst whose wind-like, invisible forces the trap-doors were sealed and th_leepless sentinels posted.
  • I remained awake all night, but by dawn realised how silly I had been to le_he shadow of a myth upset me. Instead of being frightened, I should have ha_ discoverer's enthusiasm.
  • The next forenoon I told the others about my find, and Dyer, Freeborn, Boyle, my son, and I set out to view the anomalous block. Failure, however, confronted us. I had formed no clear idea of the stone's location, and a lat_ind had wholly altered the hillocks of shifting sand.