A Very Cthulhu Christmas
Jeb only ever wanted to believe in a power bigger than himself.
Unfortunately for Jeb, he viewed himself as the biggest power of all. (Despite the egotistical misgivings, the author feels this is a perfectly valid state of living).
Little did Jeb know, that when he was invited to his girlfriend Cynthia’s house for Christmas, his state of being was to be shaken.
Jeb and Cynthia set out from their studio apartment in Portland, Oregon, for Cynthia’s family’s suburban home in Dana Point, California, in their 2001 Hyundai Elantra station wagon. The car reeked of misfortune.
Jeb brought pork rinds for the trip. Cynthia protested against such a disgusting, bitter, processed food.
Upon hearing such, Jeb responded that he believed “pork rinds are the perfect harmonization between humanity and beasts — a treat so base, it would appeal to all creatures.”
In fact, Jeb claimed he was doing God’s will by spreading the message of “The Rind.”
Jeb was objectively wrong. Pork rinds are no such thing.
The trip was long and arduous, full of annoyedness, for Cynthia had proposed marriage before they had left to the southern reaches of California, hoping to announce the good news to her family.
Jeb had declined, as he felt himself “incomplete” at this juncture in his life.
Cynthia’s feelings bled through her heart strings.
Jeb didn’t notice, as he was too busy thinking about encountering a being more important than himself.
Therefore, when the two stayed at a motel aptly called Hotel Home, Cynthia slept on a pull-out cot she had to pay an extra $15 for.
Jeb didn’t mind. He had his ego to keep him warm. Cynthia told him so.
Jeb and Cynthia passed through the city limits of Dana Point, CA, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve relatively unscathed (that’s not to say Cynthia’s back had a few more knots to show for her demonstration of disapproval) to the tune of ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby.
It was not to be a white Christmas in the sleepy seaside town of Dana Point.
Jeb and Cynthia pulled up to the quaint home of Cynthia’s parents, Mr. and Mrs… Parent.
Mr. and Mrs. Parent wore matching ostentatious reindeer sweaters. One blue, the other green.
Mr. Parent gave Jeb a hearty handshake while Cynthia received a warming hug from Mrs. Parent, and vice versa. Jeb felt both Mr. and Mrs. smelled of seaweed. Or perhaps he was just confusing their scent with that of the gentle ocean breeze constantly soothing his nostrils.
Jeb and Cynthia unpacked on opposite sides of Cynthia’s childhood bedroom. It struck Jeb as odd that the setup of the room appeared to be unmolested since Cynthia’s teenage years.
“They just give a shit about me, I guess,” Cynthia replied.
Jeb felt this was a dig at his own family, whom had altered his own childhood room to that of a massage studio.
Jeb’s parents rarely used the massage studio.
Cynthia immediately wanted to take what she said back, but when the apology left her lips, Jeb insisted there was nothing to apologize for (which was the truth, his family did not give a shit about him).
To make it up to him, Cynthia wrapped Jeb in her arms and they napped together in her fish-knitted-comforter-laden twin bed. She rubbed his chest and lightly jostled his chest hair.
It was a nice nap.
But…when Jeb awoke from the brief siesta…Cynthia was nowhere to be found.
Jeb wiped the grogginess from his eyes and called out for her amid the newly set darkness to no avail.
What he did hear…
Was what he would come to discover as chanting. Gurgled chanting, at that.
Jeb stumbled after the sounds through the darkened, unlit home leading into Mr. and Mrs. Parent’s bedroom— all the while murmuring for Cynthia.
In this moment, a slight panging struck Jeb amid the darkness…was he worried about Cynthia? That he actually cared for someone other than himself? A power greater than himself, such as love?
As he moved into the Parents’ room, he rationalized the inkling of love to that of his ego challenging his state of being. A challenge to be overcome.
Love didn’t spur him through the darkness. Curiosity.
And on this thought, he spied a spear of light jutting forth from the back of the wardrobe.
Jeb flexed his biceps of which he trained thrice a week (although he allowed himself one of these days a gentle routine) and pried the wardrobe away from the wall…
And found a staircase that led downward. Blue-lit.
Jeb descended unto its bowels.
Each movement forward yielding a deeper blue and a pulse quickened after the indecipherable chanting…
The stairs ended near darkness and this tinge of blue, and a door awaited Jeb.
With an aching crack from the mahogany door, Jeb pushed inward amid the Prussian-blue hue…
And the light. O the light that sprung into Jeb’s eyes — almost too much. He shielded his vision for fear of being blinded by The Blue…and in his abject confusion…
“We are so glad you could join us for Christmas Eve dinner, Jeb.”
Jeb ventured to remove his hands from his eyes.
It was quiet.
Jeb did not remember the next hour distinctly. Maybe two hours? However long it was when it became Christmas morning, it mattered not for Jeb. The only thing that mattered, was the fact that he was strapped down (naked) to a rotting oak table in the middle of what appeared to be a dining hall.
It was a very cold dining hall. Slight drips sounded off around him.
Jeb did not feel the need to try his straps, for in this moment, as he looked across the table at Cynthia and Mr. and Mrs. Parent, and their octopus-like faces devouring every inch of his flesh with razor-laden beaks and tongues not dissimilar to an octopus, it occurred to him:
This is more than myself.
Mr. Parent let out a hearty laugh as he slurped the juices from Jeb’s third rib: “Right you are, son. Right you are!”
Cynthia and Mrs. Parent let out their own sets of laughter interjected by the crunching of Jeb’s bones being ground between their mandibles.
Jeb couldn’t help but laugh himself…
“For The Rind.”
Cynthia lovingly looked to him: “Merry Christmas, Jeb.”
One could detect a slight wink in her eye.
Or maybe she was just blinking away a splash of blood from Jeb’s carotid artery.