The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
My discovery of the forbidden knowledge began in the winter of 2009-2010 with the re-publication of the writings of, P.R., who had in previous decades achieved no small amount of notoriety for his cultural anthropological research, which he published in now discontinued magazines and journals. His observations and criticisms had gone unnoticed and unheeded to such an extent that he withdrew from the field altogether. Rumour had it that he had gone mad and had relocated to the barren southern wastelands, where he purportedly began a program of breeding carnivorous plantlike horrors.
While perusing one of the new omnibus editions of his writings, I noted a passing reference to his current whereabouts and activities. The rumours were indeed true: He had purchased a deserted compound which he proceeded to equip with laboratories and greenhouses where he could conduct his unique research. Although the local residents assiduously avoided him, they knew of his explorations of eldritch knowledge, referring to him as R’dyelh, the Mad Albino.
If not for an accidental piecing together of separate things, I would have lived the remainder of my life ignorant of what has now become an obsession. But fate inserted the two notions into my mind in such a manner that I had no choice but to journey down the path they suggested. I was examining the wares of a purveyor of exotic fruits and vegetables in an emporium on the outskirts of Dunwich when an unusual specimen caught my eye.
In response to my inquiry as to the identity of this unusual fruit, the proprietor informed me that it was a “Buddha Hand Citron,” but I knew differently. I had seen this tentacled growth before in one of R’dyelh’s journals, where he had named it “Cthulufruit” for its striking resemblance to the high priest of the Old Ones:
The association having been made, I was compelled to purchase the entirety of the stock, a total of four of the xanthous excresences, which I transported to my modest home laboratory. I was compelled to determine the truth of some of the Mad Albino’s wilder claims. He contended that ingestion of the strange fruit would result in severe addiction, therefore I set myself to the task of isolating the hallucinogenic agent locked within its twisted flesh.
R’dyelh suggested that the infusion of common cane sugar into the fruit would mitigate it’s more severe effects on the brain stem, a hypothesis I investigated by following his preparation technique. I began with two of the fruit, from which I excised the narrow bulb end and then dissected along the ridges that separated the tentacular protrusions.
I should note here that during the course of my experiments the fruit exuded a not unpleasant odor. Having expected a foetid effluvium, I was surprised at the overall sweetness of the heady miasma that pervaded my laboratory. If the fruit’s odour alone could induce bouts of distraction, I could only surmise at the power of the ingested flesh.
I blanched the tentacles in simmering water (aqua regia would have been much to harsh an extraction agent) to remove some of the bitterness imparted by their white, pithy interiors.
Returning the fruit to a new cold water bath, I added an equal weight of sugar and set the vessel to a slow boil, regulating the heat as the mixture thickened to an amber syrup.
I removed the now golden slices from the syrup and placed them on a tray dusted with a special preparation of sugar infused with the fruit of the Madagascar Vanilla planifolia vine.
After sampling a slice, I forced myself to store the remainder in a vacuum-sealed container well out of the reach of innocent passers-by. Having deduced that a quantity of the psychoactive agent had leached into the syrup, I diluted it with an equivalent volume of water, passed it through a filtration apparatus, and bottled it for long-term storage and future study.
Having cleared the laboratory of the effluence of miasmal gases that permeated the facilities, I embarked on the second experiment, one suggested by the Mad Albino in an an unpublished correspondence with a fellow adept of the eldritch arts. “To truly propitiate the Old Ones,” he wrote, “one must ingest their liquid essence.”
That liquid essence, I surmised, would take the form of an extract of the fruit into a solvent other than water, that solvent — ethanol — being the only other liquid that is amenable to human ingestion. I began as before with two of the dissected xanthous pseudopodial bulbs, and an ample quantity of the drink favored by the denizens of the frozen steppes.
I divided the dissected fruits equally between two sturdy glass vessels, then filled each with the ethanol.
I dared not sample this newly-prepared infusion, prudently choosing to store the vessels in the laboratory’s subterranean vault, there to undergo its subtle alchemical transformations for six months. Ingesting the smallest quantity of solution before then would certainly populate my already tortured dreams with unspeakable horrors.
Despite his obvious debilitating madness, R’dyelh is correct in his assertions of the power of the otherworldly fruit. I sampled only the smallest taste of the preserved tentacles, yet days later I still find myself craving more. And as for the forbidden extract in the vault, it calls to be through a solid yard of the sturdiest New England field stone:
(With apologies to H.P. Lovecraft, and thanks to Paul T. Riddell of the Texas Triffid Ranch.)