At the Mountains of Madness is a novella by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. The story has inadvertently popularized the concept of ancient astronauts, as well as Antarctica's place in the "ancient astronaut mythology". The story is told in first-person perspective by the geologist William Dyer, a professor at Miskatonic University. He writes to disclose hitherto unknown and closely kept secrets in the hope that he can deter a planned and much publicized scientific expedition to Antarctica. On a previous expedition there, scholars from Miskatonic University led by Dyer discovered fantastic and horrific ruins and a dangerous secret beyond a range of mountains higher than the Himalayas. A smaller advance group, led by Professor Lake, discovered and crossed the mountains and found the remains of fourteen ancient life forms, completely unknown to science and unidentifiable as either plants or animals. Six of the specimens are badly damaged and the others uncannily pristine. Their highly evolved features are problematic: their stratum location puts them at a point on the geologic time scale much too early for such features to have naturally evolved.
When the main expedition loses contact with Lake's party, Dyer and the rest of his colleagues travel to their last known location to investigate. Lake's camp is devastated, and both the men and the dogs slaughtered, while a man named Gedney and another dog are unaccounted for. Near the camp they find six star-shaped snow mounds, and one specimen buried under each. They discover that the better preserved life forms have vanished, and that some form of dissection experiment has been done on an unnamed man and a dog. Dyer elects to close off the area from which they took their samples.
Dyer and a graduate student named Danforth fly an airplane over the mountains, which they soon realize are the outer walls of a huge, abandoned stone city of cubes and cones, utterly alien compared with any human architecture. Because of their resemblance to creatures of myth mentioned in the Necronomicon, the builders of this lost civilization are dubbed the "Elder Things". By exploring these fantastic structures, the men are able to learn the history of the Elder Things through interpreting their magnificent hieroglyphic murals: The Elder Things first came to Earth shortly after the Moon was pulled loose from the planet and were the creators of life. They built their cities with the help of "Shoggoths", biological entities created to perform any task, assume any form, and reflect any thought. As more buildings are explored, a fantastic vista opens of the history of races beyond the scope of man's understanding, including the Elder Things' conflicts with the Star-spawn of Cthulhu and the Mi-go, who arrived on Earth some time after the Elder Things themselves.
The Call of Cthulhu is a story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. The story deals with a manuscript found among the papers of the late Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston. In the text, Thurston recounts his discovery of notes left behind by his granduncle, George Gammell Angell, a prominent Professor of Semitic languages at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who died suddenly.
The first chapter, The Horror in Clay, concerns a small bas-relief sculpture found among the papers, which the narrator describes: "My somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature.... A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings." The sculpture is the work of Henry Anthony Wilcox, a student at the Rhode Island School of Design who based the work on his delirious dreams of "great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror."
The Dunwich Horror is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft. It takes place in Dunwich, a fictional town in Massachusetts and is considered one of the core stories of the Cthulhu Mythos.
In the isolated, desolate and decrepit village of Dunwich, Wilbur Whateley is the hideous son of Lavinia Whateley, a deformed and unstable albino mother, and an unknown father (alluded to in passing by mad Old Whateley, as "Yog-Sothoth"), and strange events surround his birth and precocious development. Wilbur matures at an abnormal rate, reaching manhood within a decade, locals shun him and his family, and animals fear and despise him (due to a smell he gives off). All the while, his sorcerer grandfather indoctrinates him into certain dark rituals and the study of witchcraft.
Wilbur wants to acquire an unabridged Latin version of the Necronomicon so that he may open the way for the return of the mysterious "Old Ones", whose forerunner is the Outer God Yog-Sothoth. Thus, Wilbur and his grandfather have sequestered an unseen presence at their farmhouse; this being is connected somehow to Yog-Sothoth. Year by year, this unseen entity grows to monstrous proportions, requiring the two men to make frequent modifications to their residence. People begin to notice a trend of cattle mysteriously disappearing. Wilbur's grandfather dies. His mother disappears soon afterward. The colossal entity eventually occupies the whole interior of the farmhouse.
"The Rats in the Walls" is a story by American author H. P. Lovecraft. Narrated by the scion of the de la Poer family, who has moved from Massachusetts to his ancestral estate in England, known as Exham Priory, which had fallen into ruins. Much to the dismay of nearby residents, he restores the Priory while plainly showing ignorance of the horrific history of the place. After moving in, on several occasions, the protagonist and his cats, specifically his favorite cat, hear the eponymous rats scurrying behind the walls. Upon investigating further (and as revealed in repetitive dreams), he finds that his family had maintained an underground city for centuries; and that previous generations of his family fed on human flesh, even going so far as to raise generations of "human cattle," including some which had regressed to a quadrupedal state. In the end, the protagonist, unknowingly maddened by the revelations of his family's past and driven by the stronger force of his own heritage, attacks one of his friends in the dark of the cavernous city and begins eating him. He is subsequently subdued and locked in a mental institution. At least one other investigator, Thornton, has gone insane as well. Soon after, Exham Priory is destroyed. The protagonist of the story maintains his innocence, proclaiming that it was "the rats, the rats in the walls," who ate the man. The rats still persist, however, as he continues to be plagued by the sounds and sights of rats in the walls of his cell.
"The Horror at Red Hook" is a short story written by H. P. Lovecraft. The story begins with Detective Malone describing an on-duty incident at Red Hook, Brooklyn, that gave him a phobia of large buildings. Back-tracking to where it all began, Red Hook is described in detail, with its gangs and crime, and suggesting at an occult underbelly.
The "case of Robert Suydam" is then told to be the driving force behind Malone's federally ordered involvement at Red Hook. Suydam's demeanor changes suddenly. Known as a shabby recluse, he is seen around town looking younger and more radiant. News arrives of his engagement to a well-to-do woman, while at the same time, there is an increase in local kidnappings. A police raid, involving Malone, uncovers nothing useful from Suydam's Red Hook flat save a few strange inscriptions.
After Suydam's wedding, he and his bride leave on a ship. A scream is heard and when the crew enter Suydam's stateroom, they find him and his wife dead, with claw-marks on his wife's body. Malone enters Suydam's flat to see what he can find. In the basement, he comes across a door that breaks open and sucks him inside, revealing a hellish landscape. Malone is found in the basement of Suydam's flat, which has caved in inexplicably above him, killing everyone else inside. The tunnels and chambers uncovered in the raids are filled in and cemented, though as Malone recounts, Red Hook never changes.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is a novella by H. P. Lovecraft. Randolph Carter dreams three times of a majestic sunset city, but each time he is abruptly snatched away before he can see it up close. When he prays to the gods of dream to reveal the whereabouts of the phantasmal city, they do not answer, and his dreams of the city stop altogether. Undaunted, Carter resolves to go to Kadath, where the gods live, to beseech them in person. However, no one has ever been to Kadath and none even knows how to get there. In dream, Randolph Carter descends "the seventy steps to the cavern of flame" and speaks of his plan to the priests Nasht and Kaman-Thah, whose temple borders the Dreamlands. The priests warn Carter of the great danger of his quest and suggest that the gods withdrew his vision of the city on purpose.
"The Lurking Fear" is a story by H. P. Lovecraft in the horror fiction genre. The narrator, hearing tales of a "lurking fear" upon Tempest Mountain in the Catskills, takes two men with him to investigate. They camp inside the deserted Martense mansion as a lightning storm approaches, and feeling strangely drowsy, they all fall asleep. The narrator wakes up to find both his companions missing, and in a flash of lightning sees a demonic shadow cast upon the fireplace chimney from a grotesque monsters like the other one.
Continuing his investigation, the narrator teams up with Arthur Munroe, another journalist. The two find as much information as they can on the mansion and environs, until they find themselves trapped by yet another storm. Bunkered in a small cabin, they witness a bright flash of lightning. Arthur looks out the window to survey the damage. The narrator, curious as to why Arthur is still staring out the window, turns him to find his face chewed off. As the narrator digs open the grave of Jan Martense, he describes the history of the Martense family. Upon reaching the coffin, he continues to dig, and subsequently falls into a subterranean burrow. He crawls along, until he sees two eyes reflecting his torch-light in the darkness. Yet another lightning-strike causes the tunnel to cave in above the beast and the narrator has to dig his way to the surface. He spots a red glare in the distance that he learns was a cabin that the hillside squatters had set alight with one of the beasts inside.
The narrator continues to search for more clues, until it occurs to him that peculiar mounds of earth lead out in lines from the mansion. He finds a burrow entrance in the basement as another storm approaches. Finding a hiding place, he watches as countless creatures crawl from the hole. The narrator then sees one of the weaker members of the grotesque mob get attacked and eaten by one of its compatriots. He shoots one of the creatures as it straggles behind the rest of the pack using a clap of thunder to disguise the muzzle blast, and upon closer inspection, notices the creature's heterochromia and realizes that the deformed, hair-covered creature is in fact a member of the Martense family, who after many years of isolation have degenerated into apelike creatures.
"The Thing on the Doorstep" is a story written by H. P. Lovecraft, part of the Cthulhu Mythos universe of horror fiction. Daniel Upton, the story's narrator, begins by telling that he has killed his best friend, Edward Derby, and that he hopes his account will prove that he is not a murderer. He begins by describing Derby's life and career. He then tells of Asenath Waite, and how Derby and she wed.
A few years later, people start to notice a change in Derby's abilities. He confides in Upton, telling him strange stories of Asenath, and how he believes her father, Ephraim Waite, may not actually be dead.
Upton is called to pick up Derby who has been found in Chesuncook, Maine, rambling incoherently. On the trip back, Derby tells of Asenath using his body, and suggests that it is in fact Ephraim who resides in the body of Asenath. Before finishing, he has a small seizure and rapidly changes personality, asking Upton to ignore what he might have just said.
A few months later, Derby shows up at Upton's door and says he has found a way to keep Asenath away; to stop her from using his body. Derby finishes renovations on his old family house, yet seems strangely reluctant to leave Asenath's old place. Upton receives a visit from Derby, who begins raving about his wife and father-in-law. Upton gets him to sleep, but has Derby taken to Arkham Sanitarium. The Sanitarium calls Upton to tell him that Derby's "reason has suddenly come back", though upon visiting, Upton can see it is not the true personality of Edward Derby.
Upton is roused from his sleep by a knocking at his door, using "Edward's old signal of three-and-two strokes". Upton believes it may be Derby, but opens his door to find a "dwarfed, humped" messenger, carrying a letter from Derby. The letter explains that Derby had in fact killed Asenath and buried her body in their cellar. Despite this, Asenath had managed to take control of his body while he was in the Sanitarium, meaning that "the thing on the doorstep" was actually Derby inhabiting Asenath's putrefying corpse. The note implores Upton to go to the sanitarium to kill Derby, who has been permanently possessed by Asenath-Ephraim's soul. Upton does so, thus hopefully banishing Asenath-Ephraim's soul to the hereafter, though he reveals that he is afraid of having his soul transferred as well.
"The Dreams in the Witch House" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, part of the Cthulhu Mythos genre of horror fiction. Walter Gilman, a student of mathematics and folklore at Miskatonic University, takes a room in the Witch House, a house in Arkham thought to be accursed. The first part of the story is an account of the history of the house, which has once harboured Keziah Mason, an accused witch who disappeared mysteriously from a Salem jail in 1692. Gilman discovers that for the better part of two centuries many if not most of its occupants have died prematurely.
The dimensions of Gilman's room in the house are unusual, and seem to conform to a kind of unearthly geometry that Gilman theorizes can enable travel from one plane or dimension to another. In his dreams Gilman is taken to a city of Lovecraft's "Elder Things", and even brings back tangible evidence that he's actually been there. Several times his dreaming self encounters a bizarre "congeries of iridescent, prolately spheroidal bubbles", as well as a trapezoidal figure, both of which seem sapient. It is hinted that these may be the extra-dimensional forms of Keziah and her familiar.
"The Shunned House" is a story by H. P. Lovecraft in the horror fiction genre. For many years the protagonist and his uncle, Dr. Elihu Whipple, have nurtured a fascination with an old, abandoned house on Benefit Street. Dr. Whipple has made extensive records tracking the mysterious, yet apparently coincidental sickness and death of many who have lived in the house for over one hundred years. They are also puzzled by the strange weeds growing in the yard, as well as the unexplained foul smell and whitish, phosphorescent fungi growing in the cellar.
After the protagonist discovers a strange, yellowish vapour in the basement, which seems to be coupled with a moldy outline of a huddled human form on the floor, he and his uncle decide to spend the night in the house, investigating the possibility of some supernatural force. They set up cots and chairs in the cellar, arm themselves with military flamethrowers, and outfit a modified Crookes tube in the hopes of destroying any supernatural presence they might find. The protagonist hatches a plan. He orders a military gas mask, digging tools, and six carboys of sulfuric acid to be delivered to the cellar door of the shunned house. He digs into the earthen floor of the cellar, turning up fungous yellow ooze, and arranges the barrels of acid around the hole in the belief that he will happen upon some kind of monstrous creature. Eventually, he uncovers a soft, blue-white, translucent tube, bent in half and two feet in diameter at its widest point. He frantically climbs out of the neck-deep hole and dumps in four barrels of acid, realizing that he had found the elbow of a gigantic monster. The protagonist faints after emptying the fourth barrel.