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,
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.