It was a dark evening, the light of a starkly gibbous moon shone ominously onto a lone Arkham building. A place rooted firmly into one of the more undesirable districts of that cursed city. The light trickled through into its Georgian interior, as if afraid of the dancing shadows it threw forward like devilish spectres. The pointed ears and peaked form of something alien to the world were cast darkly onto Howard Phillip Lovecraft by the softly tortured light. He sat reading the "The Cask of Amontillado", muttering to himself, strange musings punctuated by the curling of his lips. The cat's shadow disappeared and the scene seemed twisted for a moment, silent but for the screams of another world that could be heard echoing in the dark circuitous passageways of his mind.
Lovecraft stared stoically at the aged paper before him, pensive as he ignored this all too familiar experience. He closed the book, self indulgent self hatred and adoration of his erstwhile peer and closest purveyor of the dark arts filling him and then passing. Something occurred to him.
'My dear Poe, you poor man,' these words oozed out of his mouth, a vast unutterable truth consuming his mind.
Lovecraft rose abruptly and looked towards one of the room's two doors. It was long since locked shut and neglected by the look of it, yet the peeling paint and rotting wood seemed to call him forward. He wished to simply forget the truth that had been revealed to him, but the cyclopean nature of it was too much to bear.
Lovecraft stepped over the stuffed black cat, whose cruel stare forever tormented, courtesy of taxidermy and some unnameable rites that should not be explained, at least not in this life. He put his hand onto the door and crisp paint fell away at his touch, exposing something inscribed beneath that had some time ago been painted over by Lovecraft in a fit of moral rage.
'The Mark.' He uttered breathlessly. It was as if it burned the paint off from underneath, leaving it dry and crumbling.
The room seemed suddenly hushed with thickening silence as he entered, as if it had been occupied by some formless beings only moments ago. The screaming and twisting of reality occurred again, but his impassive implacable expression did not change.
Lovecraft stared into the immense barren landscapes implied by the deep shadows of the room's dark living walls. Sigils and paintings of all manner of horrors adorned the edges of a territory somehow vaster, from which otherworldly breezes could be felt and idiot gibbering heard. The knowledge of this barely veiled illusion forced the very walls from his mind, as those dark places he visited in restless reverie and mad scrawling again called to him. He had not come here for those visions. He had come for the rite. He had known of it for many years now, like so many strange rituals taught in dreams, overheard in dank grottos, and read from dark books bound in human flesh. Oh but the pain it caused one's mind and body, it was much to bear, he knew it would drive him to a fit of madness, just the madness required.
He advanced into the ever stretching darkness produced by perversions of time and space, illusion and horror entwined. There the Necronomicon awaited him, crouched and ghastly under a dimly opaque bubble of unknown provenance. He could see it was warped and twisted now, the many oozing bubbles in that solid glass-like surface seeming alive with intent. What the alienists would describe as a break from reality occurred again, as the screams once more made themselves known, cavorting hideously in the theatre of his mind. Lovecraft clenched his teeth in a snarl, attempting to grab the book from under the glass-like substance that dissolved into a pale mist as his hands slid over it. Immediately he grabbed the book and turned to leave the dark expanse, whose howling winds now battered him and sang with growling voices speaking in alien tongues.
The shocking form of a jagged eldritch tower loomed over him, time and space now so twisted that the mad geometry formed almost incomprehensibly conceivable constructions. Lovecraft felt sweat drip upwards from his brow as he stared into the light of the now distant open doorway, between he and it an abyss where formless black things stirred from forsaken dreams with the realisation of escape and a morsel of human flesh. Lovecraft had sealed this room for a reason.
He gazed into that abyss, his formerly static features twisting as he chanted words of power. 'Cthulhu catala. Cthulhu catala. Yog Sothoth,' these words boomed out as the Necromicon fell open to that dreaded page twelve. There were screams oh god the screams but the world fell back into place, a kaleidoscope of shadows retreating with sickening speed, and the suddenly solid floor now led to close and welcome exit. Sweat dripped from Lovecraft and he cackled madly.
The black cat watched his egress from the room, it's suspicious eyes darting from Lovecraft's quickly humanised face to the Necronomicon under his arm. The door slammed shut behind him and a horrid snow of black paint flecks fell to the ground unnaturally slowly, revealing the warped and stained mark beneath. Lovecraft knew it was there, but he had the will not to look at it, even as vague scratching could be heard from the other side. He placed the black cat on his lap and stroked it nervously, it's evil gaze warding off any further intrusion from those monstrous indescribable forms of the Abyssal plane Lovecraft knew all too well.
Page twelve fell open. The image of desolation would be too much to bear for any ordinary man, but Lovecraft stared into it as blood fell from his face onto the book. Perhaps this was the Masque of the red death Poe wrote about? He thought to himself as he felt his body begin to dissolve. The page of the book now changed at will, and he willed the rite then began the incantation.
'trickalee-lee, trickalee-lee. Yog-Sothoth. Cthulhu catala.' The world turned blood red and he felt himself fall through the floor.
In another time Edger Allan Poe sat staring introspectively into the dark void of his soul, an oil lamp casting his shadow deeply across the walls of a dank basement. He was pondering love and death as usual in that mind we shall never fathom, when the form of Howard Phillip Lovecraft materialised in front of him. Poe's gaze was captured immediately by that demandable black cat, then he looked up into the deep pools of Lovecraft's eyes.
'Who...?' Poe began. Lovecraft advanced on him.
'I'm doing this because I love you.' Lovecraft hissed the words as those forceful cat eyes pushed Poe back into an ancient alcove filled with the bones of undignified death. Poe soon found himself in chains laughing hysterically, as brick by brick his world was walled off. Only the golden orbs that stared alive and unblinking from the face of the black cat were visible in the enclosed dark in which his life ended.