The travails of a Masters student
(Being a letter to a student under supervision, c. 1927)
My dear Charles,
I am gratified to hear of the progress of your researches and the general comfort of the late General Sedgwick’s country retreat. I trust it has provided a meditative setting for study, and that the various minor disturbances to your sojourn (both waking and hypnagogic) regarding the “grotesque and obscene silhouettes cast by the mill-pond’s curious tower at sunset” have not unnecessarily alarmed you.
Clearly, you have suffered setbacks. The early loss of notes and photographic plates during your stop in Morley Bay, must have come as a disappointment. As you’ve learned, however, the winter solstice rites observed in certain isolated New Hampshire fishing towns are not conducive to outsiders’ participation.
Overall, the Faculty is rather impressed with your persistence.
For my part, I am merely astonished at your survival. Most idle, independently wealthy young men with no particular interest (carnal or social) in the company of man, woman or beast we’ve sent into the hinterland of New England on research grants have lasted not three weeks.
Your archival researches at Sedgwick house into the curious disappearances at seven year intervals dating back to the Civil War is of a much higher than usual standard for first-year students. Your theories on Sedgwick’s blasphemous human experiments at the windowless mill-pond tower in the dark days before emancipation are rather better expressed than Dr Mansour managed in his 1919 paper on the subject. (He has, in fact, expressed envy of your prose style.) The oral histories taken from the degenerate old women of inbred backwaters and the cross-correlation of their ravings about The Masters Outside, and the Unliving Who Hunger To Feed On Human Souls, has been more than competent. Connecting that with the unholy pre-human god Yog Sothoth, and making the further connection with your (supposed) dreams of “inhuman, bestial wailing from throats that have never drawn living breath” at the mill-pond tower was inspired. (Mansour is threatening to quote from that letter extensively.)
Your success and comparative longevity has become, frankly, tedious.
Your complete undoing, however, was your discovery of the personal diaries of the last three Faculty students sent on research grants to Sedgwick’s. Forwarding them to us was an act of idiocy. Had you run, rather than trustingly awaited instruction, you might have outlived the night. Even as you read this, a few of the more depraved villagers will be preparing to sacrifice you to Yog Sothoth at moonrise.
The Ancient Master needs feeding, as you’ve noted, at seven-year intervals.
Most of the faculty is terribly sorry to waste a mind of your calibre on this exercise, but with the planets presently in alignment, there is not time to locate and despatch by express locomotive a less promising student in time to be fed into the Master’s strangely octopus-like, tentacle-encrusted beak.
Besides, your research and writings are unconscionably good. This is a competitive faculty, and I have not remained its chair for over 112 years by allowing every upstart pipsqueak who survives his first encounter with reanimate servants of the Hungry Masters a chance to return from his certain doom to feed my soul scrap by scrap to the Devouring Ones resident in Outer Darkness.
I’ve quite enough trouble keeping the daggers of that cretin Mansour from my back since he raised Servants of the First Lords in Darkness to general acclaim at last year’s staff Antichristmas party.
May the Eternal One enjoy you as a light morsel. Needless to say, your research grant is suspended herewith.
Yours in Cthullu,
Dean of Cryptoanthropology and Xenoic Studies
Faculty of New Haven University