My Ragnar Contest Entry

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There is a terrible darkness that gnaws at the souls of men. A vast and inescapable void that looms, ever present, and hungers. My own studies into the forbidden had led me down the path to madness. The toll of grappling with things which should not be seen, and cannot be unseen. I had worried my nails to ruins, and found myself plagued by a cough. My laugh a nervous titter. The Miskatonic University was more asylum than a place of learning. The lost and wicked roamed the halls, either unaware of uncaring what they had sacrificed in their quest for knowledge best left hidden. A sanitarium of the damned.

I slept fitfully, straining against my covers and sweating profusely as horrors haunted my dreams. Dead things in sunken cities that would rise once more to bring ruin to our world. A terrible mass of undulating tentacles that would alight upon the forest and give birth to twisted nightmare beasts. A king in yellow, seated on an ancient throne in the frozen plateau of Leng.

One night, he came. The Viking. His eyes blazed beneath his helm. He pointed his axe at me and spoke. I cannot say for certain what he said, for I do not speak Norse. The path was clear to me, however. Ragnar himself had come to me in a vision. He swept his arm to reveal a trail. An escape. I could not save myself from what I had learned, but I could run from it.

Run I did. Into the night. Through the night. In the mornings. Afternoons. It did not matter the time. Only in flight could I find peace. Only in fruitless attempts to flee could I find some measure of tranquility. I found others, and joined with them. Ragnar himself had brought me to this place, and while it is not salvation, it is the best I can hope for. When the Deep Ones come, boiling forth from the oceans in advance of the dread Cthulhu, I cannot escape, but I can run. When the spawn of Shub-Niggurath ooze forth from the woods, I can run. When Ragnorak comes and Ragnar himself takes the field of battle against the giants, I can run.


Anniversary Email 41

Congratulations, <NAME>! A prominent theory holds that any species advanced enough to colonize the stars would also be wary enough of potential challenges to their superiority to eradicate any other intelligent life before it could become a threat. This civilization would seek any traces of complex life in the galaxy and stomp it out before it could learn the secrets of interstellar travel or harnessing the power of a star. Massive extermination fleets would ply the void, bringing ruin and death to worlds.

As it turns out, our own planet has been visited by them in the past, during the last great extinction, where they wiped out life and forced an ice age in attempt to freeze anything that remained. For the last several decades, we have been blaring our existence into space, sending every possible signal that earth still harbors life.

These termination vessels have heard our signals. Two days ago they slipped into high orbit and began a series of scans. As we awaited our doom, only a single message came. One sentence from this fiendish alien intelligence that had eradicated the dinosaurs and attempted to kill our world. It said, simply, “Scan complete: Not a threat.” The ships then engaged their engines and left our orbit.

Anniversary Email 40

Congratulations, <NAME>. As you have doubtless surmised after our recent meeting with <OTHER NAME>, we are rolling forward with our plan to replace all management positions with robotic simulacrum. These new mecha managers will represent a drastic improvement over our old human based leadership system. They do not require sleep, nor take sick days, and they are experts at motivating increased productivity through the deployment of a series of powerful electrical shocks to the spinal column. It is better than a cup of coffee. One jolt and you are AWAKE, my friend.

Of course, to avoid confusion and/or conflicts between new <NAME> and what we are now referring to as “Meat <NAME>”, we will need to retire you. And by retire I mean dispose of. And by dispose of, I mean kill. And by kill I mean… Actually that is what I meant. There really is no further disambiguation possible. It was pretty clear.

Lest you worry your impending termination means you will be of no further use to the company, never fear. We have teamed up with SpaceX to perform a comprehensive study on the effect of explosive decompression on the human body. You start tomorrow.

Congratulations again! We are all very excited to meet Mecha <NAME>.

Anniversary Email 39

Happy anniversary, <NAME>!

I was walking through the ruins of a decaying temple in Central America when I was suddenly surrounded by a strange mist. I awoke to find myself in a vast stone room that was eerily familiar.

“Supplicant!” a voice boomed. “We have need of you!”

“Right,” I sighed, “The League of Assassins. What do you want?”

“Firstly,” the voice continued, “I do not care for your insolent tone. Second, you will bring us <NAME>!”

I squeezed my eyes shut and rubbed a hand over my face, knowing I would regret my next exasperated  question. “Why do I need to bring you <NAME>?”

“He must undergo the dread ritual and become… THE OCTO HYDRA!” The room shook, sending dust falling from the decrepit stone ceiling.

“Ok, so,” I began, “you still haven’t gotten that fixed. Also, a hydra has five heads, so what is an octo hydra? Is it like an eight headed hydra, or is it a eight hydras, meaning it would have forty heads? Or…”

“It has one head!” the voice shouted, “Behold!”

The stonework before me illuminated, revealing a carving of a man in an apron and chef’s hat, stirring a bowl with a spoon.

“Right,” I said, drawing out the word. “Don’t you guys pretty much just eat honey nut cheerios? I mean, why do you need a chef?”

“Because,” the voice protested, “We just do. Shut up. Bring us Paul, and he will undergo the ritual of the octo hydra!”

I folded my arms and trapped my foot impatiently. “What, exactly, does this ritual entail”

“First, he must don the skin of the octo hydra!”

“Ok,” I said, “So he puts on the apron…”

“Next,” the voice continued, “He must wear the cowl of the octo hydra.”

“So the hat.”

“Shut up!” the strange voice commanded. “Finally, he must wield the wand of the octo hydra!”

“And there is the spoon. Great. Can I go now?”

“No,” the voice replied.

I stood there waiting for a few moments as the situation grew more awkward. I began to push small piles of dust around with my feet.

“Now you can go,” the voice said, “and remember your task!”

“I’ve already forgotten it,” I offered as the mist swirled and took me away. I awoke back in the temple, a wooden spoon at my feet.

“Stupid league of stupid assassins,” I muttered, stumbling back out into the daylight.