To The Burrowers Beneath

3 September 2010

Wedged between the rolling Port Hills were the winding avenues of Heathcote valley suburbs. Sprawling outwards from Lyttleton Port road and railway tunnels, the verdant streets wrapped like a nest of asphalt serpents. Flax, scrub, and browning grass crept up the hillside to the rocky summit of Castle Rock. Beside the massive stone, a man beheld the sun sink behind the Southern Alps.

The watcher recounted words in an forgotten tongue, never intended to be spoken by human organs. The sky reddened like a teenager's face after a first kiss, while streetlights imposed the artificial order of an illuminated grid upon the cityscape below. The crass human construction did not impress him, as he called upon the pre-human memories that occupied his mind.

The watcher recounted the basalt spires that once arose beyond the Canterbury Plains in timeless antiquity, eons before the rise of humanity. Seeing a pigeon land caused him to recall a time centuries ago, when the dim-witted moa sprinted across the grasslands while the ominous shadow of a Haast eagle blackened the vision of the massive bird as it descended. The memory terminated as the iron grip of the raptor's talons crashed the moa's vertebrae. A shoggoth oozed along the surface of a jokull-clad mountain as it thawed itself out of the frost.

The watcher reflected upon the ancient land, and how humanity had been among the last of its current inhabitants to arrive. He recalled scattered glimpses of a Maori warrior striking a victorious deathblow against the renegade tohunga that had conjured forth a tentacled starspawn of distant Xoth. He saw an incessantly gibbering shoggoth of forsaken antiquity repelled by a jadestone charm with the Elder Sigil etched into it. He saw ravening, knife-wielding cultists vanish in a fusillade of British musket fire. He saw a Maori warrior futilely empty a revolver into a shape in the underbrush of a virgin forest. He saw a band of prospectors descend into the blackened subterrene realm beneath the Southern Alps, only emerge as something other than human.

The observer could feel the weight of his homeland's heritage with every step down the hillside. Imperceptible to most humans, he could feel something equally ancient shift in the rumbling depths below. It shifted beneath his feat as a feeling of dread crept up his body. An unseen foe caused his stance to momentarily totter, as if pummeled by an unseen boxer. An ancient, chthonic thing wedged beneath tectonic plates drew closer towards the surface, compelled by unknown forces. As he collected himself, he fainted as he realized it was coming for Christchurch. It was coming for him.