The Dungwich Horror

A Lovecraptian Tale

by Josh Schlossberg


My head throbbing from last night’s drinking binge, I sat on the john for my late morning elimination. Usually regular enough to set a clock by, I waited for the train to leave the depot as the leaking sink dripped away the seconds. After several uneventful minutes, I decided to get up and try again later.

Sure enough, while vacuuming the living room of my modest bungalow, a rumble as of distant thunder from my bowels. I hurried back to the bathroom, the tiles cold on my bare soles, yet despite the urge to go was baffled when nothing happened. The distressing pattern of emergency then false alarm repeated itself several times over the next hour until I was forced to face the terrible truth.

I, Colin Escher, was constipated.

Still in my thirties, I had never experienced the phenomenon. I thought back with dismay to the three pizza slices I had scarfed down at two a.m. to sop up the cinnamon whiskey shots Steph, my swipe app date, had coerced me into taking. Almost always a clean eater, I had allowed myself this moment of weakness and now I was paying the price.

Luckily, it was Saturday and my only plans for the day was a 5 p.m. coffee with Steph—plenty of time for my digestive system to get back to normal. Charmed, at first, by her free-spirited party girl persona, my broken guts were now ample proof I couldn’t handle this much chaos in my life. For the sake of my health, I’d be using the get together to break things off.

Two hours passed and despite several runs to the Bank of Kohler, I still hadn’t made a single deposit. Upsetting terms such as “prolapse” and “fissures” skittering through my mind, I made sure not to strain on the plastic seat and let gravity do its work. Unfortunately, as if I was floating in outer space, Earth’s natural laws no longer seemed to apply. My leg fell asleep, and I worried for the first time what would happen if the troops hadn’t deployed in time for my date.

Moments later, my own internal San Andreas fault line slipped, triggering tremors in my nether regions so excruciating I pounded the wall with my fist. A veteran of slipped discs, two broken bones, and a hernia, I was no stranger to pain. But as the astonishing pressure built up like floodwaters against a dam, I’m ashamed to say I whimpered like a lost puppy.

After what felt like ages, something dropped as if down the chute of a vending machine and plished into the water. Instead of the Guinness Book of World Records specimen I expected, a single deer pellet lay on the bottom of the bowl.

Every fifteen to twenty minutes for the next few hours, the juddering, back-hunching cycle of wretchedness fired up again, like someone had replaced my intestines with a pepper grinder. And with the same paltry results, hardly enough to bother flushing.

I sat there in my cramped “office” panting, marveling at how I had been misled into thinking constipation was little more than mild discomfort. Knowing this new dark reality left me feeling betrayed, like I had learned about a genocide left out of the history books.

I got up from what had become my desk chair and went out to the kitchen where I had left my phone on the table. I gasped. Somehow, it was almost 4 o’clock! Short of a miracle, there was no way I was making it to my date.

Logging onto the app, I sent Steph a quick message. “Hate to do this last minute, but I’m feeling a bit under the weather. Raincheck?” While I could’ve easily dumped her this way, I was old-fashioned enough to believe breaking up was something you did face-to-face. I shut off the phone to avoid the temptation.

Then I waddled back to the bathroom as the bell inside my colon signaled the next round. If anything, the contortions came on stronger this time—forcing out beads of sweat on my forehead and upper lip—but again producing little more than a shaving.

“Please God help me,” I was surprised to hear myself whine, never a religious man.

With the next fit, I wailed half-jokingly, “Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, frickin’ Zeus, whoever ends this becomes my official Lord and Savior!”

When my abdominal lawnmower started up again moments later—effectively shredding any lingering beliefs I might have had in a benevolent creator—I unleashed a litany of every curse word I knew, followed by a nonsense stew of mostly grunted consonants in hopes of discharging the pain, “Frgrgrtunmrgunsyhahnghftcrsndurgn!”

By this point I had shed all my clothes, as it had become a chore to keep pulling my pants up and down like some sad stripping GIF on the Internet. The overhead fluorescents flickered and that’s when I heard the voice in the toilet.

At first, I told myself I was just passing gas. But the “p” and “f” and “t” noises strung together into what sounded uncannily like words, though none I had ever heard from a human mouth. I plastered the back of my wrist to my forehead to check for a temperature, but I was cool as a clam. This was no fever dream; it was really happening.

The language, if that’s what it was, morphed from throaty to nasal to whistling to a kind of insect clicking. Finally, I recognized what I was pretty sure was Chinese or Japanese spoken in a deep, melodious voice, then possibly Arabic, then definitely French. “Maître!”

Sadly, my familiarity with French consisted of two inattentive years in junior high, so I wasn’t able to translate until I distinctly heard, in clear, perfect English. “Master!”

I held my breath, my heart buzzing inside my ribcage like a bumblebee. The voice boomed again, “Master!”

“Who’s there?” I muttered, as if someone had knocked on my front door (and not my back).

“In your tongue, I am known as Syha’h N’ghft, but you may call me Sy,” the voice said. “And I am at your service.”

I sat there dumbfounded, wondering if I had somehow swallowed a Bluetooth. Or a hallucinogen. “There’s no way you’re inside me?!”

“In a manner of speaking,” Sy said.

I launched up from the seat. Spinning around, I lifted my butt, parted my cheeks, and inspected myself over my shoulder in the mirror above the sink. No wires or anything out of the ordinary to explain the disturbance. My mind groped for a logical explanation.

“What the hell are you? And why are you even here?”

“You summoned me, of course.”

“I did no such thing.” The fact that I was conversing with a voice inside my rectum was hard enough to believe, much less the idea that I had initiated the contact.

Yet he calmly reminded me of my plea to the universe for aid, claiming that during my bout of verbal diarrhea I had mentioned his name.
I scoffed. This was insane. Was this what it was like to go insane?

“You want me to believe you’re a God or something?”

“We have no such terminology where I come from.”

“And that is?” Going along with the ruse, I cocked an ear towards my posterior.

“Your people call it the Pinwheel Galaxy. In the constellation Ursa Major.”

“Yeah, right. How could that be possible?”

“Pain is an amplifier,” he replied. “Yours was so great, it projected your call across the vast gulf of space between us.”

Cold all of a sudden, I shivered. I no longer cared who Sy was or where he came from, I just wanted him gone. “Well, it was a wrong number. You can go home now, wherever that is.”

Sy paused a few seconds, as if taken aback by my rudeness. “If you no longer require my services, I shall take my leave. However, I must first request your aid for my deliverance.”

Deliverance. The first image that popped into my mind was the disgusting “squeal like a pig” scene from the 70’s movie of the same name. It dawned on me that I, too, had been violated.

“I want you out of my ass!” Trembling in fury, I squatted over the bowl and smacked my own butt repeatedly with both hands as if I was an unruly child in need of correction. “Get out, now!”

After several fruitless minutes of self-flagellation, I began to cry softly. “What do I have to do to make you go away?” I bleated.

“Simply expel me,” Sy said serenely.

“Like, poop?”

“That would be your word for it.”

Exhausted, I dropped down on the seat and licked away salty tears from my lips. “What the hell do you think I’ve been trying to do for the last six hours?”

“If I may, a suggestion.” Sy recited a series of complicated, guttural syllables he said would set us both free.

The eeriness of the chants, or whatever they were, raised goosebumps on my arms. Uneasily, I wondered what the process of ejecting Sy would feel like. And what would happen when he got out.

“How big are you, exactly?” I asked.

“Currently, I’m in the form of a gas.”

“So, it’s not gonna hurt?”

“No more than you’d expect,” he said matter-of-factly. “And once I’m gone, I promise your bowels will be empty as they’ve ever been.”

“I don’t know—” The bathroom walls closed in on me, as if I had taken a bad tab of acid.

“Repeat after me,” Sy commanded. “Ph’nglui.”

Despite my trepidation, I sat down on the seat and parroted as best I could, wanting nothing more than for the ordeal to be over. “Ph’nglui.”

“Mglw’nafh,” Sy said.

I repeated in a call and response no churchgoer had ever joined in on. “Wgah’nagl.” I tapped my heel nervously on the tile, unsure about the whole thing.

“Wgah’nagl,” he said, more insistently..

“Sorry, but what do you plan to do, again?”

A brief, but unsettling pause. “Nothing more than my duty, I assure you.”

If that was a pun, it wasn’t appreciated. “Could you elaborate?”

“If you must know,” he snapped, “I intend to make the world right again.”

“I don’t know what that means,” I said, equally taken aback by his loss of composure as I was his words.

“Release me from this prison and all will become clear!” he shouted.

I had no time to process his disclosure as what followed was my longest and most vicious interior pummeling yet, what had to have been a full minute of pure, gut-wrenching torture. As my scant leavings finally hit the water, they hissed like a pat of butter on a griddle, and a hot plume of steam rocketed me up from the seat.

At the bottom of the bowl, a golf-ball sized chunk of tar bubbled like fondue.

Thankful as I was to have gotten rid of Sy, my relief was short lived as a pseudopod emerged from one side of his amoeboid body, which he used to drag himself forward an inch. Then a second one gooped out of his opposite side and he gained another inch. Alternating his appendages like a miniature kayaker, he slid himself up the curvature of the porcelain.

When the pitchy clump approached the water line, I snapped out of my trance and smashed down the flusher. Sprouting two more limbs, Sy held fast, braving the onslaught like a cow in a storm. As the water drained, the stench of spoiled fish wafted up and when the bowl refilled, he doggedly resumed the climb.

Panicked, I flushed again. This time he skidded backwards, spun head over heels (though he had neither), and disappeared down the hole.

“Good riddance, you piece of shit,” I spat and followed with a final flush.

“I’m still here,” Sy said from inside me, seemingly nonplussed. “Now, finish the chant and be done with this.”

“Nooooo!” I growled, teeth and buttocks clenched tightly against the return of my nightmare. If that foul thing I had just disposed of had only been corrupted by Sy, how horrific must the corrupter be himself?

“Did you hear me?” I screamed. “I’m not saying the chant!”

Bracing myself for Sy’s response, I sat there in silence. A neighbor’s dog yipped outside.

Roughly ten minutes of stiff anticipation until the next contraction, evacuation, and splash. Dread in my heart, I forced myself to look…and was overjoyed to find a normal-sized—and inanimate—cluster of organic waste.

Was he gone? Had my refusal to repeat his magic words banished him back to the dismal void from whence he had come?

Feeling filthy all of a sudden, I hopped in the shower. The blissfully hot water washed away most of my tension and any remnants of what had come out of me. The lead weight in my gut meant I was still constipated, but Sy’s retreat followed by my most recent healthy stool meant things were on the upswing.

A faint grumbling in my stomach and then an abrupt spasm—like an elephant stomping my midsection—which buckled my knees and threw me to the floor of the shower. Lying stunned in the fetal position, water streaming over me, my stomach distended like the tin foil of the Jiffy Pop Grandma used to make. I gasped for breath; the pain incandescent, certain—hoping—I was about to pass out.

“I tried to do this the easy way,” Sy snarled. “But you’ve forced my hand.”

“I didn’t say the chant,” I groaned, my belly now that of a pregnant woman in her third trimester, ghastly purple stretchmarks snaking up my sides.

Laughter from Sy in the form of sputtering flatulence. “There is no chant. Only nonsense words to distract your mind.”

This admission hammered home the fact that no matter what tortures Sy inflicted on me, he couldn’t cross the threshold without my consent—like a vampire in reverse. “I won’t let go until you tell me why you’re really here.”

Hot water pattered my back as if from a rainstorm in hell.

“My home planet is no more,” he said, despondently, followed by a flatulent sigh. “For aeons I sought a suitable replacement, yet all had been previously claimed. Then you summoned me,” his voice brightened. “And while I had never heard of this plot of mud you call Earth, I vowed to prepare it for myself and my subjects.”

I honestly, truly, didn’t want to know the answer. But, as the one responsible for conjuring this abomination, I had to ask. “Prepare it?”

“By boiling every lake, stream, and ocean to vapor!” he thundered. “By shriveling all that is green and scattering the dust to the Four Winds! By rending soil from bedrock like flesh from bone!”

“You’re going to kill us all,” I tittered from the floor of the shower, the faces of my parents, friends—including lovely Steph’s—floating past my mind’s eye. Every one of them, dead. And all by my hand. Or ass, to be specific.

“To the contrary,” he said, “the perpetuation of your species is vital to our colonization.”

“As slaves,” I murmured, knowing full well where this was going.

Sy sniffed. “Neither I nor my subjects have any use for the poaching of eggs, the fluffing of pillows, or whatever petty chores your kind could perform for us.”
“No,” he continued. “Humanity will provide a far more important service.”

Straightening my back, I allowed myself a moment of hope, which Sy quickly dashed to pieces.

“First,” he said gleefully. “I shall gather each and every one of you wretched souls from around the globe. Then, I shall melt and fuse your forms together into a massive orb, which I shall set ablaze. Once I snuff out your pathetic sun like a candle wick between my fingers, I shall thrust this star borne of suffering into the heavens to radiate agony down to sustain the planet’s new and rightful occupants.”

I vowed then and there to resist, even if it meant exploding all over the walls of the shower.

Wasting no time, Sy commenced to inflate my aching abdomen, my tender skin cracking like a sun-baked salt flat. Forcing myself up to my knees, I stood on wobbling legs, snatched off the detachable shower nozzle and twisted the faucet as cold as it could go. Once the water was chilled, I flicked the nozzle to the massage setting and positioned it against my anus.

“Take this, you asshole!”

To my surprise, my belly immediately began deflating as if punctured and I had hopeful visions of Sy drowning inside of me like a flooded fetus.
Until Sy struck so fiercely it felt as if my viscera were being puréed in a blender, bowing me over like an actor at a curtain call.

Shrieking in misery and defiance, a frigid wave swept through me, congealing my guts into a hard mass. Then, what felt like Thor’s hammer shattered what was left of my digestive tract in a paroxysm of anguish, the force smashing me through the shower door onto the bathroom tile.

Lying there amongst the glass shards, bleeding from a hundred wounds inside and out, the last of my willpower drying up like a vernal pool under the August sun, I knew there remained but a single option to prevent Sy’s exodus and the erasure of life on Earth.

With a burst of strength borne of equal parts inspiration and desperation, I rose woozily to my feet. Streaming water and blood, I slid into the kitchen and tugged open a drawer. In one motion, I grabbed a butcher’s knife and thrust the tip of the blade towards my throat, certain my death alone could banish Sy back to the cosmic pit from which he had been vomited.

But before I touched flesh, a convulsion I could only compare to lightning striking an erupting volcano crumpled me to the floor, knocking the knife from my hand, where it skittered out of reach.

“Alright, you win!” Spent and helpless, I cried to the heavens, needing it to be over. “I don’t care what you do, just get out!”

Instead of the magnitude 10 Richter Scale brutality I was expecting, my body went numb as if shot full of morphine and, almost pleasantly, something spooled out of me like handkerchiefs from a magician’s sleeve.

Then a putrescence hit me in alternating waves of carcass and pond scum and halitosis, followed by a splattering and gurgling of something taking form. Unable to look, I shut my eyes tight, as what I knew to be a newborn Sy slithered across the floor, squelched up the cabinets to the counter, and shattered the window above the sink.

My vital fluids leaking out of me, I summoned the courage to open my eyes. A decision I immediately regretted, as outside the broken window hovered a transparent, bubbling blister the size of an obese man, within which a space-black pus roiled and whirlpooled. Quivering, it continued to expand until it blocked out the streetlamp and moments later, the moon.

Sprawled on the kitchen floor amidst Sy’s warm, sticky afterbirth—weeping for my fate and that of my fellow man—an unsourced quote cut through my haze of self-pity and regret, “I am become death, destroyer of worlds.”

Destroyer of worlds. Destroyer of worlds. Destroyer of…worlds?

I threw back my head and laughed, knowing all was not lost.

For the second time that day I bawled across the cosmos, beseeching whoever or whatever might be listening to come to my aid in return for my eternal servitude, then gibbered every combination of syllables I could pronounce.

Seconds, minutes passed, until—finally—I felt something stir between my legs.

Triumphant yet terrified, I sat up as my flaccid penis spasmed, thrashed, and rose stiffly of its own volition, like a cobra ready to strike.

Then, from its orifice, a tiny voice squeaked out my name.




About the Author


Josh is  the creator of Josh’s Worst Nightmare, to biological horror fiction), a member of Horror Writers Association, founding member of Denver Horror Collective, and editor of Terror at 5280’, a local horror fiction anthology published in November (with stories by Stephen Graham Jones, Carter Wilson, and foreword by HWA President John Palisano).

His fiction has been published in Bards and Sages Quarterly, Campfire Tales, Demons, Devils and Denizens of Hell, Disturbed Digest, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine. His short story, “The Cat’s Meow,” received a Silver Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.