Private Wilhelm Hausser stood trembling, and for the first time it wasn’t because of the perpetual screams from behind the door of his post or the gruesome state of the bodies he was tasked to drag out and dispose of each day. This time, his body shook under a flood of adrenaline invoked by a different type of scream.
In an echoing torrent, Hausser’s commanding officer scolded him between gasps of air. Lieutenant Altstacht’s frame jerked and twitched with each exclamation, engorged veins pulsing in his neck, but his right hand held firm—the hand holding the loaded 9mm Luger inches from Wilhelm’s face.
“…unacceptable. You will face severe repercussions!”
Both men dripped sweat and struggled to keep their breath as the situation escalated. The other solider, on post opposite Wilhelm, pressed himself against the wall, doing his best to become invisible.
None of them noticed the clopping footsteps approach until they stopped. Private Hausser’s eyes drifted to the waiting group of men. Their identity was unmistakable—black uniforms emblazoned with dual lightning bolt letters and a silver skull glimmering atop their helmets. Wilhelm, in sync with the other Private, jolted into a rigged stance, their complexions more pallid, their right arms raised.
“…either astounding ignorance or an utter lack of—” Alstacht’s existence froze. Then, he lowered the pistol and snapped into a salute.
One man broke from the group and faced the officer with a clack of his heels. “At ease, Lieutenant. What is the disturbance here?”
“M-my Führer, I am honored by your presence. My sincerest apologies for the disruption,” Alstacht said with the lowered gaze of a scolded child.
“Nonsense, I am a man of the people and I wish to help. Please, enlighten me.”
“The… uh, Private here, was being reprimanded for failure to follow orders and repeated offenses of unauthorized attire in disrespect of the uniform.”
“Hmm, yes, this is not good. What is the exact offense?”
The Lieutenant’s posture straightened and his voice now held much of the strength it had prior to the group’s arrival. “Repeated exposure of a necklace promoting unauthorized symbols—the Christian cross and some other nonsensical medallion. The solider had been warned previously of such an offense.”
The Führer walked over to Hausser and lifted the charms in the palm of his hand for a closer inspection. With a swipe of his thumb, he brushed the cross aside to view the medallion—a pewter cast of three interlocking horns. The Führer glanced at the Private before returning to Alstacht’s side.
“And, what was the decided punishment?”
“The official punishment for insubordination is death, my Führer,” the Lieutenant answered and retrained his pistol on Hausser.
“I see,” Hitler said, pursing his lips. “It is a shameful loss, but rules are rules.”
Then, gesturing to Alstacht with an open hand, he inquired, “May I?”
“Of course, my Führer.”
Hitler raised the pistol and locked eyes with Private Hausser. In a calm, swift motion, he turned to the Lieutenant and pulled the trigger.
Alstacht’s body crumpled to the floor.
“Now, let me be clear,” the Führer announced, “ignorance is unforgivable. No situation can be defined by the black and white of a rule book.” Hitler then gripped Hausser’s shoulder. “Forgive the misunderstanding. Please, come with me and tell me why you wear Odin’s symbol.”
The two men walked down the long corridor with the SS marching behind them. Hausser had similar features to those in the SS and stood at least eight inches taller than their leader.
“My grandmother raised me on both the pre and post-Christian Norse religion. I wear them to honor her and to honor the Gods.”
“Do not those symbols clash?”
“No, my Führer, I believe that there is a closer connection than currently known. I believe they are both based on an older mythos.”
“Ha,” Hitler laughed aloud, which caused more than a few widened eyes behind them. “Private, you were quite underutilized.”
After a few turns through the complex, they approached a heavily guarded door. The soldiers on post saluted as they crossed the threshold.
The room was massive. Broken into several areas, it looked to contain functions of a library, a science laboratory, a museum, and an odd variation of a church sanctuary. Nazi regalia lined the walls and men were hard at work in all sections.
Hitler led them across the main hall and into the Library’s archive examination room, waiving off salutes as they went. A small team of scholars hovered around a book laid open at the table’s center as they took notes and referenced other texts. They dropped everything and gave salute. One of them, after receiving the return salute, approached the Führer. His complexion reddened and beads of sweat formed across his brow as he waited for Hitler to speak.
“Dr. Bunzel, I have not received Himmler’s report on the new item.”
“My Führer, please forgive the delay. We have translated portions of the manuscripts and are only now able to run some tests on its accuracy and potential.” The doctor gestured to the sanctuary at the far end of the great hall where men looked to be preparing for a ceremony with lighted candles and incense.
“Pnakotic,” Hausser spoke softly, an unintentional word falling from his lips as he peeked over Bunzel’s shoulder to the book in the examination room.
Both men stopped and looked at him.
“Is that the Pnakotic Manuscripts?”
The doctor’s mouth dropped open, his gaze shifting from the young soldier to the Führer and back.
“Dr. Bunzel,” Hitler said with a smirk, “meet Private Wilhelm Hausser.”
“You know of the manuscripts?” the doctor asked.
“I-I never knew if they were real or myth, but, yes. It was said by Norse mystics that the manuscripts held the true origin of the Gods… all the Gods that we now see as different religions. They are all incarnations—representations diluted by the framework of human sanity—of the true supreme beings that rule over our existence.”
“How do you know this?”
“Are the manuscripts penned in Old Norse or the elder language?”
“It’s, uh, Duriac, or, as you say, the elder language,” Dr. Bunzel answered, still slow in finding his words as he stared with a pinched expression. “What else do you know about the manuscripts?”
“I’ve heard there is a Norse version, lost chapters of the Sagas, emblazoned with the tangled image of Jormungandr. But, this creature is not the spawn of Loki as the mythology is told. That serpent of the sea is but an appendage of the true being—a much older, horrific creature of inconceivable context and power—one of the Elder Gods. The manuscripts offer historical reference, but also passages of worship and incantation. Norse mystics included words of warning as well, safeguards so to speak, that were not in the originals texts. I urge you to not—”
Excited voices from across the hall grew loud enough to demand their attention. One of the scholars, clad in a heavy robe, shouted at the altar with his arms outstretched. A breeze swirled through the room, ruffling the large Nazi banners and threatening to extinguish the candle flames. The man slowed, hesitating in his incantation. He searched through the translated documents with a frantic flipping of pages.
A deep rumbling sound emerged as the floor shuddered.
“This can’t be good,” Hausser said and cursed under his breath as he leapt forward, snatched the Pnakotic Manuscripts, and sprinted toward the sanctuary.
“Hey!” the doctor objected.
The group rushed to follow the young Private. When they arrived at the edge of the church, Hausser was there, already paging through the manuscripts.
“You can read them?” Dr. Bunzel asked.
“Not entirely, but I may know enough,” Hausser said without looking up.
The makeshift priest shouted a sequence of ancient words and the tremors stopped; a moment of calm hung heavy in the room with a wide eyed look of confusion on all the faces. Then, booming from all directions, a voice of grinding stone and thunder replied to the incantation.
“Hasyrath r’ylek n’gklul.”
The scholars rifled through their notes arguing in harsh whispers.
With no direct reply, the monstrous voice spoke again.
“It’s saying something about, uh, a true gift,” Hausser said, drawing the attention of those around him. He stood squeezing his eyes shut, scouring his memory for a better understanding of the language. “No wait, it’s asking for a worthy offering.”
“Ph’nglui kadishtu ehye fhtagn r’lyehoth, gnaiih mnahn fhtagn.”
“No blood sacrifice was given,” Hausser translated, “so blood he shall take.”
They all stared at the Private, waiting, hoping he’d correct his translation.
Just as Hitler moved to voice an inquiry, the makeshift priest screamed and dropped to his knees. He held his face in his hands as blood oozed out between his fingers. After a moment, his shrieks dwindled until he knelt in near silence, his heaving breaths the only sound in the entire hall.
A lone scientist approached the priest with great caution, each of his footsteps placed with visible hesitance. He knelt down next to the man and, with a craned neck and a gentle hand upon his shoulder as if consoling a lost child, he offered to help.
The priest removed his hands from his face and reached out to the scientist. A gasp flowed through the crowd of onlookers as his empty eye sockets were revealed. The two men rose to their feet and the scientist waved to the soldiers for assistance. The priest, instead of reaching for support on the other man’s shoulders, clutched the scientist’s head and cackled wildly as he squeezed. In a matter of seconds his hands, now covered in blood and grey matter, found each other.
Screams erupted throughout the hall.
The soldiers skidded to a halt a few feet away and immediately readied their rifles. With gore dripping from his outstretched fingers, the priest turned to face them and they opened fire. A series of bullets riddled his chest, their impact jostled his body, but he kept shambling toward them. Then, in a voice like screams amid a buzzing storm of insects, he spoke to them, “R’lyehoth mnahn fhtagn.”
The soldiers crept back again, trying to keep a safe distance, but the priest, with only a sweeping gesture, sent them and all to the floor, clutching their helmets and writhing in agony.
Full panic hit the room. Scientist and scholars ran for cover and shoved past each other to reach the exits. The SS core formed a barrier around the Führer and fired at the possessed priest.
“Found it!” Hausser shouted. Ignoring the gunshots and the urgent questions from Dr. Bunzel, the Private stepped out of the crowd and approached the altar. He grabbed a silver saucer, brushed off the incense ash, and rushed over to the scientist’s corpse. As he fought down the rising bile in his throat, he scooped up brains and blood with his bare hands to load up the offering plate. On the floor at the base of the alter he drew symbols in blood that looked like variations of three interlocked triangles and modified pentagrams with a central eye.
By that time the SS had inflicted enough damage to the priest’s skull, spine, and torso to render him little more than an abstract pile of hot meat. As they sighed their relief and reloaded their weapons, the five victims of the priest, rose to carry out the will of their possessor.
Renewed gunfire thrummed in Hausser’s peripheral attention, but he remained focused. He stood between the blood-drawn symbols, with the offering plate held high, and called to the Ancient Ones.
“Vulgtlagln naep vulgtm shtunggli zhro ee naR’lyeh”
The complex shook violently and the thundering voice replied, “Nilgh’ri sll’ha vulgtm ilyaa li’hee. Ehye fhtagn.”
Hausser’s shoulders slumped. He turned to look at the human chaos behind him. More death bloomed through the hall as people trampled each other and soldiers succumbed to the possessed corpses, while all those screams from the experiment ward echoed through his mind. Should he end this, or was it deserved punishment? No one in the entire complex could be considered innocent, he thought, but this curse, their wrath, would quickly spread beyond these walls if he didn’t abide.
Moral agony twisted his face as he decided his fate and theirs.
Tears slid down his cheeks. With a clenched jaw, he set down the saucer and sought out the closest scholar. A woman, trying to flee the possessed soldiers, ran along the sanctuary’s edge toward the main entrance. Hausser grabbed her lab coat and pulled her over to the altar. Breathing heavy through gritted teeth, he snatch a dagger from the altar, held it against her neck, and shouted, “Vulgtm ehye fhtagn li’hee.”
Then, in one swift movement, he yanked her hair back and slit her throat.
Her blood sprayed him as much as it did the offering plates.
The tremors stopped.
The possessed soldiers, collapsed, returning to their state of death.
An odd calm fell over the hall.
Hitler, with the remaining SS in tow, approached Hausser and shook his hand with vigor, “I knew you were special. Excellent work, young Hausser! You shall be commended and given proper reward.”
“My Führer, I—”
“Never mind that. With the right incantations, might we control the… Gods?”
“My Führer,” Hausser replied with a creased expression of fret, “we are extremely lucky to have contained them for the time being. Control will never be an option.”
“Special Lieutenant Hausser, your responsibility going forward is to contain the powers behind today’s events, and to report directly to me with any variance,” Hitler said, then turned to Dr. Bunzel. “Doctor, you and your team will continue to seek a method of control and experiment toward such. This power, if harnessed, would deliver to us all nations and allow a proper ethnic cleansing for the dawn of the Aryan race! This is of the highest priority. Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, my Führer. Sieg Heil!”
Wilhelm Hausser watched the survivors march away with smiles on their faces as if a treasure was uncovered. All he could think about, with the day’s violence joining the nightmare menagerie of his memories, was the question: who was the true terror, the malignant Gods, or mankind itself?
~ Tyr Kieran
© Copyright 2015 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.