AN: So, I've no idea if this is going to be half as amusing to those who haven't read at least some of the worlds of science fiction prince H.P. Lovecraft, but those who've never heard of him, let me know! Cthulhu, shoggoths, and the Cthulhu mythology belong to Lovecraft. The lyrics at the beginning and ending of the story were written by Sean Branney. And, as always, Holmes, Watson, and Mrs. Hudson are creations of ACD.
"O come all ye Old Ones
Loathesome and repugnant
O come ye, O come ye
to reign and destroy.
Tremble and fear him
from outer dimensions
O come let us abhor him
O come let us abhor him
O come let us abhor him
Holmes glared towards the window, attention sufficiently drawn from his notebook of chemical experiments (the cover of which bore several acid holes and a stain that looked suspiciously like blood). "Damn doomsayers!" he growled with a roll of his eyes. "That's the third time this week!"
"They're not doomsayers, they're cultists," replied Watson. He was seated comfortably in his armchair reading a novel, his deadlines done for the holiday season, and looking forward to the profits from his latest book, guaranteed to be the most sought after gift that year.
"I don't care if they're octopi, they're a bloody nuisance!"
"No, they only worship an octopus. Or a half-octopus, half-dragon, half-human."
"How can a thing have three halves?!"
"When it's a Great Old God, apparently." Really, it was a bit of a welcome change from the traditional carolling repertoire; Dr. Watson enjoyed "Away in a Manger" as much as the next fellow, but hearing it year in and year out made him rather adaptive to "Away in a Madhouse".
"Great Old God, indeed," the detective muttered with a scorning look thrown towards the window for good luck. "I've half a mind to toss water on the cloaked idiots."
"Perhaps we should invite them in," shrugged Watson from his chair, turning his page. "They seem to be at least aquatinted with the paranormal, and Mrs. Hudson really has wanted that dreadful thing off the roof for quite some time now."
"What, you mean that rather placid creature?" He glanced towards the roof where the amoeba-like creature was moping about. It was nigh the size of a man, possessing no shape. Eyes floated about its seemingly liquid body lazily pulsating green light every now and then, giving the impression of melting tar with fireflies in it. "I rather like it. It's the layman's alternative to a gargoyle."
"It ate the neighbour's tabby yesterday and spat the skeleton out whole, all the bones still attached."
"Fine. I always hated that cat, anyway…" Throwing open the window, Holmes called out "Excuse me, Misters and or Misses Cultists? I was wondering if we could have a moment of your time?"
The two robed figures turned to face him, revealing them to be a Mister Cultist and a Miss Cultist.
"Of course!" smiled Miss Cultist, a smile beaming on her face. "Even though time is always running out, there is always some of it to educate another about the forthcoming arrival of The Great Cthulhu!"
Holmes slammed the window shut hard enough to make the glass rattle in the frame. "Let the record state that this was not my idea. Great Cthulhu, honestly… They're giving pagans a poor name, you know that? Pagans used to be decent folk; celebrate a perfectly natural occurrence with a some Yule logs, tree-trimming, at most some unclothed festivities out in the woods where they wouldn't bother anyone. Now the Christians took all their traditions so they feel they have to make up rubbish like this."
"To be honest, Holmes, I've heard a thing or two about this Cthulhu character, and I don't quite think it's an offshoot of traditional paganism." The doctor dog-eared his page (it was an older used novel, its only value in its story and therefore its physical form tolerant of abuse), staring off in thought. "As a matter of fact, and American friend of mine in Massachusetts might have mentioned a thing or two about it… I haven't heard from him in a while, come to think of it…"
Mrs. Hudson rapped on the door, letting herself in as she often did. She said a quick, silent prayer each time she entered 221b and something was not on fire, bleeding, or both. "Gentlemen, there are some rather… odd individuals saying they were invited in?"
"Oh, yes, show them up. Er, don't bother with tea." At her sceptical look, Watson added "They're to see about getting that beastie with the flesh-sucking tendencies off the roof."
She brightened reasonably at this. "Oh, wonderful! You know, I still propose donating it to a natural sciences museum if you're stuck with it alive after its removal; surely something like that would save quite a bit of time when it comes to skinning and wiring bones and such. Simply toss the animal at it and there's an instant skeleton display."
The two figures entered the room on deft feet, not lowering their hoods in the warmer environment .
"So, you say your mind is becoming receptive to the Great Old God Cthulhu?" became Mr. Cultist, a merry smile upon his cold-nipped features.
The landlady quickly excused herself.
"Er, yes, this Tulu sounds like… a jolly good idea," Holmes forced out, gritting his teeth with the corners of his lips turned up in lieu of being able to manage a smile. "And speaking of ideas, we had something of an idea that a pest about our roof might have something to do with the fellow?"
"Pest…?" Miss Cultist questioned, following the direction in which the detective's boney finger was pointed, gaze finally falling on the black, formless monstrosity attached to the roof like a gob of melted liquorice. "Oh, that! That's a shoggoth."
"Yes, well, no offence if he's kin to Mr. Tulu…"
"Mr. Cuttwolo, but it's causing our landlady and neighbours some distress. Their minds simply aren't as receptive, you see."
"Oh, I don't blame you for not wanting a shoggoth on your roof. Nasty things, have a taste for cats, get to be the size of a train carriage fully grown, you know." The woman drew a broom from somewhere in the depths of her robes. "They've been about the city lately, not quite sure why. We'd be happy to get rid of it for you."
"… We've tried a broom. It ate the broom," offered Watson. "With much less lustre than it ate the cat, but it ate it all the same."
"Oh, this is a special broom. Ancient redwood with runes and such." She went to the window, threw it open, and began to poke at what was apparently a shoggoth, evoking some rather irritated noises that were similar to nails on glass, but at least it wasn't eating her; no natural history museum, at least not a British one, would want the skeletal remains of a cultist, even as a donation.
Now a Hindu, perhaps…
"While she's working at that, perhaps I can share some information with you!" chirped Mr. Cultist, pulling a black-bound book from his sleeve. "Now, The Great God Cthulhu is the king and most powerful of all the Great Elder Gods, who created the entire universe eons ago and cultivated the human race to be their slaves and they ruled the earth for millennia. But, not being made of matter like you and I, the stars must be properly aligned for the Great Elder Gods to exist. The constellations shifted, and thus the Gods made their retreat to the deepest oceans, mountain caverns and volcanoes until their time came to awaken."
"Er, is that a fact?" The doctor glanced uneasily out the window; the end of the broom had poked out several of the shoggoth's eyes, and they seemed to be emitting some sort of green gas. He dismissed it, as surely it was no more damaging than ordinary London fog. Much most festively coloured as well.
"Oh it surely is, gentlemen!" He opened the book, and Holmes caught a quick glance of the title. The Necronomicon. That didn't sound foreboding, not in the slightest. "Even the mighty Cthulhu was forced into his underwater city of R'lyeh, which our research has concluded is somewhere beneath the Pacific. There he must dream most terrible dreams in preparation of when the stars again are right and he and the Elder Gods can awaken and reclaim what is theirs; the entire world!"
Holmes was becoming a bit curious despite himself. "And what exactly happens when that occurs? The Great Elder Gods make the world a paradise for us? We are all Raptured into this heaven, Rally, was it?"
Mr. Cultist snorted. "This is what the Judeo-Christian dominance does to a person!"
"Indeed!" chuckled Miss Cultist, giving the shoggoth a hard jab. It was leaking more green gas that appeared to be melting the shingles a tad, but at least it was not coming through to the beams.
"For one thing, R'lyeh, is a physical place underwater, not a mystical realm. Secondly, we are merely the playthings of the Elder Gods. When they return, we were all be devoured and destroyed horribly, every man, woman, and child, thoroughly and without a single exception, even the most loyal of cultists."
Holmes and Watson exchanged a long glance. The doctor found it within him to speak first. "That's a rather poor pitch, you know."
Both cultists blinked in unison. The shoggoth took this opportunity to engulf a part of the broom and nearly yanked Miss Cultist out the window, and she returned to her battle while her cohort continued his speech.
"What do you mean by pitch?" he questioned, honestly looking a little hurt.
"Look, no offence meant," spoke Holmes with a long-suffering sigh. "But other religions, successful religions, they've got a hook. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have an eternal paradise for the faithful after they die. Hinduism and Buddhism have reincarnation to a potentiality better life. Even Taoism promises enlightenment. Do you see the pattern here? These religions gain followers by promising that if they follow their restrictions, something good will happen to them."
"Oh, something good does happen!" Mr. Cultist smiled, eyes bright with enthusiasm limited to children expecting presents and the religious. "When he destroys the world, The Great Lord Cthulhu will eat his followers first so that our pain will be lessened!"
Miss Cultist stabbed once more, and a screech than rattled the china and nearly deafened Watson, sitting near the window, was emitted before the creature dissolved into bubbling black liquid, finally fading away to nothing but droplets on the shingles. "Got it!"
"Excellent." Holmes tossed some coins towards the male cultist. "A donation towards your, er… worthy cause. Now, this informing took rather longer than we'd thought, and we have a meeting…"
"Embrace Cthulhu with all your heart and he will ease your final suffering towards blissful oblivion!" waved the female as Holmes hustled them both out the door. "Merry Solstice!"
"Told you they were pagans," spat out the detective as he slammed the door. "Damn nutcases."
"They did get rid of the shoggoth. You can't argue with results, Holmes."
"Would you like to wager on that?" he growled as below, the song of the cultists rang out once more.
"You'd better watch out; you'd better go hide.
An Elder Sign is needed for this Yuletide.
Great Old Ones are coming to town.
They're making a fist and shaking it twice.
They're going to hit you naughty or nice.
Great Old Ones are coming to town.
They're bringing ugly shoggoths, And horrid Deep Ones too.
Shub Niggurath is waking up,
And so is Cthulhu.
So you'd better watch out, you'd better go 'way,
Before the big guy comes up from R'lyeh.
Great Old Ones are coming town!"
"Merry Solstice, Holmes."
"Oh, stuff it."