HP Lovecraft's The Festival

from by Rupert Degas

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The story is set at Christmas time: "It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind." An unnamed narrator is making his first visit to Kingsport, Massachusetts, an "ancient sea town where my people had dwelt and kept festival in the elder time when festival was forbidden; where also they had commanded their sons to keep festival once every century, that the memory of primal secrets might not be forgotten." The town he comes to, which shows little sign of habitation, seems centuries out of date. He locates his relatives' house, which has an overhanging second story, and is greeted by an unspeaking old man with "flabby hands, curiously gloved," and a "bland face" that he comes to suspect is "a fiendishly cunning mask". This mysterious greeter directs him to wait next to a pile of old books that includes a Latin translation of the Necronomicon, wherein he discovers "a thought and a legend too hideous for sanity or consciousness." At the stroke of 11, he is led outside to join a "throng of cowled, cloaked figures that poured silently from every doorway", heading to the "top of a high hill in the centre of the town, where perched a great white church." He follows the silent crowd, "jostled by elbows that seemed preternaturally soft, and pressed by chests and stomachs that seemed abnormally pulpy", into the church. The procession enters a secret passageway below the crypt, eventually coming to "a vast fungous shore litten by a belching column of sick greenish flame and washed by a wide oily river that flowed from abysses frightful and unsuspected to join the blackest gulfs of immemorial ocean." There they engage in a "Yule-rite, older than man and fated to survive him", while "something amorphously squatted far away from the light, piping noisomely on a flute.”

credits

from HP Lovecraft's Short Tales Of Terror, released November 8, 2010
Written by HP Lovecraft
Read by Rupert Degas
Music by Jon Nicholls
Produced/Directed by Neil Gardner

(c) 2010, A Ladbroke Productions Audio Release

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