In the background, there was chanting...
 

I have to say that I was surprised. Like so many stars of the screen, he was smaller in real life, at the Tom Cruise end of the spectrum of disappointment. In addition, he was none too scary, either. Like the rubber shark in Jaws, he failed to impress me in any really fearful way after my initial jumping-heart response. But then, that's what you get for an over-fertile imagination, fuelled by too much reading on the Internet.

All that being said, he was now chasing me, and that's always going to provoke a response. As one who runs from any dog larger than a football, I can say that being chased is rarely fun. Apart from playing kiss-chase, I've pretty much always run from people or things.

Anyway, let's cut to the chase, so to speak. Cthulhu was chasing me, and clearly not in a friendly manner. Those claws, whilst being diminutive, were doubtless as sharp as any cat's, and his appearance was pretty dreadful. I have to thank all the gods and goddesses that he couldn't run very quickly, marred as he was by flopping tentacles and the (frankly all-but-useless) wings. For all his dreadful countenance, he flew like a chicken. As long as my stamina held, I could out-run him.

 
        In the distance, "...fhtagn...n'gha...throd...shugg..."

 
I have to pause at this juncture to remind you that I am not in the best of shape in cardio-vascular terms, but the memory of my marathon training was enough, combined with a certain amount of adrenalin, to stay far enough ahead to stop him chomping on me. Did he even have teeth? Maybe he'd suck hard on me, maybe he'd just slime me. In any case, I was not about to try and find out.

Something in the back of my mind told me that he wanted something of me, something I possessed that he (or possibly one of the older Great Old Ones) needed. So, I ran. I ran through brambles, jumped hedges, scrambled through thickets, bounded over rocks and plunged through streams. I suppose I ran quite a way before I finally drew on the last of my energy, and fell, winded, onto the sandy beach. Turning to glance back, I noticed that he, poor lamb, was in worse shape than I; in retrospect this is hardly surprising, given that he'd just awoken from his eons-long sleep. I know that I'm a slow mover at daybreak, and this poor sod was clearly worse than me.

He lay, a quivering, gibbering wreck of a beast on the side of a dune, his body and head pulsing with what looked like breathlessness. As I recovered my own breath, I drew closer to make a better examination, and at that point, I admit that I simply had to laugh. Here's this creature that's described in the literature as mountainous, and it's sprawled out like a too-large jelly released from its mould on a too-warm day. It bubbled slightly and oozed a little as I approached, its tentacles waving feebly. I was reminded of a rubber chicken crossed with Zoidberg for a moment, and that's when my laughter-control let go.

 
        "...hlirgh...fm'latgh..."

 
After a while, I recovered from my fit, sat up and looked at him. "So what's with the chasing?", I asked.

He looked at me, or rather, I assume he did; I could see no eyes. He wobbled with a little more amplitude, as though taking a deep breath, then collapsed a little. "You. Have. Something. I. Want." I realised after a moment that I did not exactly hear words, more the idea behind words. I looked at him, and as I took a breath to speak, he responded. "My. Report."

Now I was puzzled. That morning, or whatever time it was, I'd received my daughter's school report in the mail. It was still unopened in my jacket pocket. I drew it out to a frantic thrashing of, um, limbs, from poor Cthulhu.

"Give. It. To. Me. Now."

"Why should I? It's addressed to me."

"Look. Closely. You. Are. Mistaken."

I decided to humour him, but stood up as a safeguard, ready to run. It was one of those moments when one does a genuine double-take; as I looked again at the envelope, I saw that I was indeed mistaken, for it was addressed to The Parent or Guardian of Cthulhu Rogers. I blinked. "Rogers?"

Cthulhu wriggled a little. "It. Is. A. Long. Story."

"But I should give this to your parent or guardian, as it's addressed to them, not you."

He raised himself up a little; I steadied myself to run if need be. From a distance, I heard the windblown chant pick up the pace.

"There. Is. No. Need. To. Fear. Me.   I. Will. Not. Harm. You.   Just. Give. It. To. Me."

I pondered this for a moment. "You're in no position to argue, given that I can outrun you."

"It. Is. A. Small. Island.   Sooner. Or. Later. You. Must. Sleep."

I did another, longer, ponder.

"You. Know. That. I. Know. Your. Thoughts."

I tried to ponder quietly, gave it up as a bad job.

"The. Stars. Are. Right.   Great. Old. Ones. Are. Coming."

Now there was food for thought. I knew that the coming of the "Old Ones" was not going to be a Good Thing, for me or anyone else. I looked again at the envelope and decided that it could do no harm to at least read the thing...

"Yes. You. Might. Open. It.   Consider. Yourself. My. Honorary. Guardian."

"Seriously? I should read it?"

He did something that looked like it may have been a nod. "Afterward. Is. It. Not. Traditional. To. Give. The. Report. To. The. Child."

"Um. I supppose so." I held the envelope up. There were contents. I took a deep breath and tore the flap open, turning away as Cthulhu tried to peek at it.

"A school report?" I was amazed, frankly. "You, the great priest of the Great Old..."

"Yes. I. Know. How. It. Must. Seem."

"Shall I read it to you?"

He did the presumed nod again. I drew a breath and began.

"English, you got an A. Good grade."

"Should. Have. Been. A. Plus.   I. Think. The. Teacher. Hates. Me."

I looked at him with what I hoped was guardianly, withering scorn. He wriggled. I cleared my throat and continued.

"History, A+; Social Studies, A-; Psychical Excercise, A, that's good." I paused and looked across at him. Was he pleased with that, and if so, how would I tell? That metachronal wave of the tentacles? Hard to say.

"Mathemagicks, C+..." The atmosphere suddenly altered, the temperature dropped; I looked across. For the first time, Cthulhu did not move. Not a wobble, not an ooze, not a single tentacle twitched. There was a silence greater than silence for a moment, and then I heard his voice for the first time. It rasped, it squelched, it ground and it clicked, but it was very, very clear indeed.

"YOU. WILL. GIVE. IT. TO. ME." He rose again, seemed to inflate, grow. There was a tremor in the earth, as though he were drawing the very power of the planet.

"Why? Because you got one bad grade?"

He slumped, subsided again. "My. Followers." The thought was somehow pathetic, and all was clear. If his followers learned of this, they may lose faith, may stumble at the wayside, may even drive him away by their lack of belief. I understood all now.


 
I left him there and withdrew behind the dunes, but stayed to watch him return to the sea. He moved slowly, shuffling, head down. Poor Cthulhu!

I kept the report card, of course. It was just as well that I didn't get as far as his grade for Astronomology, which was D+. Poor sod, he'd read the stars wrong, so the Old Ones wouldn't have been coming anyway, and I doubt that any number of "Art, A+" grades would have consoled him.

 



 

I actually had this dream, except he was afraid not only that I had his report card, but also that I had drinking straws. Sorry, didn't work the straws into the story.

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