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You are watching: Tree on a hill
I.Southeast the Hampden, close to the tortuous Salmon flow gorge, is a variety of steep, rocky hillswhich have actually defied all initiatives of sturdy homesteaders. The canyons space too deep and also the slopestoo precipitous come encourage anything conserve seasonal livestock grazing. The critical time i visitedHampden the region—known as Hell’s Acres—was part of the Blue hill ForestReserve. There are no roadways linking this inaccessible locality with the outside world, and also thehillfolk will tell you that it is without doubt a clues transplanted from his Satanic Majesty’sfront yard. There is a neighborhood superstition that the area is haunted—but by what or through whomno one seems to know. Natives will not endeavor within its secret depths, because that they believethe stories handed down to lock by the Nez Perce Indians, who have shunned the region for untoldgenerations, because, follow to them, the is a playground of details giant devils from theOutside. These suggestive story made me an extremely curious.My first excursion—and mine last, give thanks to God!—into those hills occurredwhile Constantine Theunis and I to be living in Hampden the summer of 1938. That was writing atreatise ~ above Egyptian mythology, and also I uncovered myself alone lot of the time, in spite of the factthat we common a modest cabin on Beacon Street, within vision of the infamous Pirate House, builtby Exer Jones end sixty year ago.The morning that June 23rd found me wade in those oddly shaped hills, whichhad, due to the fact that seven o’clock, seemed an extremely ordinary indeed. Ns must have actually been around seven milessouth the Hampden prior to I noticed anything unusual. Ns was rise a grassy ridge overlookinga particularly deep canyon, once I come upon one area entirely devoid that the usual bunch-grassand greaseweed. It expanded southward, over numerous hills and also valleys. At first I thought thespot had been shed over the previous fall, yet upon analyzing the turf, I uncovered no indications ofa blaze. The adjacent slopes and also ravines looked terribly scarred and seared, as if some gigantictorch had blasted them, clean everything away every vegetation. And yet there was no proof of fire....I moved on over rich, black soil in i beg your pardon no grass flourished. As I headedfor the approximate center of this desolate area, I began to notice a strange silence. Therewere no larks, no rabbits, and also even the insects appeared to have deserted the place. I gainedthe summit that a lofty knoll and tried to guess in ~ the size of that bleak, inexplicable region.Then I saw the lone tree.It was standing on a hill somewhat higher than the companions, and attracted the eyebecause it to be so utterly unexpected. I had seen no trees for miles: thorn and also hackberry bushesclustered the shallower ravines, however there had been no mature trees. Strange to find one standingon the comb of the hill.I crossed two steep canyons before I pertained to it; and also a surprised awaited me.It was not a pine tree tree, nor a fir tree, no one a hackberry tree. I had never, in every my life, seenone come compare with it—and ns never need to this day, because that which ns am eternally thankful!More 보다 anything the resembled an oak. It had a huge, twisted trunk, fullya garden in diameter, and also the huge limbs started spreading exterior scarcely 7 feet indigenous theground. The leaves were round, and curiously alike in size and design. It could have been atree painted top top a canvas, however I will certainly swear that it to be real. Ns shall always know that it was real, in spite of what Theunis said later.I remind that i glanced at the sun and also judged the time to be around ten o’clocka.m., although ns did no look in ~ my watch. The job was ending up being warm, and I sat for a whilein the welcome the shade of the large tree. Climate I pertained to the location grass that grew beneathit—another singular phenomenon when I remembered the cold terrain with which i hadpassed. A wild maze of hills, ravines, and bluffs hemmed me in on every sides, return the riseon which ns sat to be rather higher than any type of other in ~ miles. I looked far to the east—andI jumped to my feet, startled and also amazed. Shimmering v a blue haze of street were theBitterroot Mountains! over there is no other selection of snow-capped peaks within three hundred milesof Hampden; and I knew—at this altitude—that ns shouldn’t be see them in ~ all.For several minutes i gazed in ~ the marvel; climate I became drowsy. I lay in the location grass, beneaththe tree. I unstrapped mine camera, took off my hat, and relaxed, staring skyward v thegreen leaves. I closed mine eyes.Then a curious phenomenon started to assail me—a vague, cloudy type of vision—glimpsingor day-dreaming seemingly there is no relevance to anything familiar. I believed I observed a good templeby a sea of ooze, where 3 suns gleamed in a pale red sky. The substantial tomb, or temple, wasan anomalous color—a nameless blue-violet shade. Big beasts flew in the cloudy sky, andI seemed to listen the pounding of their scaly wings. Ns went nearer the stone temple, and also a hugedoorway loomed in prior of me. Within that portal were swirling shadows that appeared to dart andleer and try to snatch me within that terrible darkness. I thought I saw three flaming eye inthe shifting void that a doorway, and I screamed through mortal fear. In the noisome depth, i knew,lurked utter destruction—a living hell even worse than death. I screamed again. The visionfaded.I saw the ring leaves and also the sane earthly sky. I struggled to rise. Ns wastrembling; cold perspiration beaded mine brow. I had a mad advertise to flee; operation insanely fromthat sinister tree on the hill—but I checked the absurd intuition and also sat down, tryingto collection my senses. Never had actually I dreamed anything for this reason realistic; therefore horrifying. What had actually causedthe vision? I had actually been analysis several that Theunis’ tomes on ancient Egypt....I mopped my forehead, and also decided the it was time for lunch. Yet I did not feel prefer eating.Then I had actually an inspiration. I would take a few snapshots that the tree, for Theunis.They could shock him out of his habitual waiting of unconcern. Possibly I would certainly tell him around thedream.... Opening my camera, ns took fifty percent a dozen shots that the tree, and everyaspect that the see as watched from the tree. Also, I consisted of one the the gleaming, snow-crestedpeaks. I can want come return, and also these photos would certainly help....Folding the camera, I went back to my cushion that soft grass. Had actually that clues beneaththe tree a certain alien enchantment? I understand that ns was wake up to leaving it....I gazed upward at the curious round leaves. I closed my eyes. A breeze stirredthe branches, and their whispered music lulled me into tranquil oblivion. And suddenly i sawagain the pale red sky and also the 3 suns. The soil of 3 shadows! Again the an excellent templecame right into view. I seemed to be floating on the air—a disembodied spirit experimenting the wondersof a mad, multi-dimensional world! The temple’s oddly angled cornices fearful me, andI knew that this location was one that no man on planet had ever before seen in his wildest dreams.Again the vast doorway yawned prior to me; and I was suck within that black,writhing cloud. I appeared to be staring at space unlimited. I saw a void past my vocabularyto describe; a dark, bottomless gulf teeming with nameless shapes and also entities—things ofmadness and delirium, as tenuous together a mist native Shamballah.My heart shrank. Ns was terribly afraid. Ns screamed and screamed, and felt thatI would soon go mad. Then in mine dream i ran and also ran in a fever of utter terror, however I go notknow what i was to run from.... I left the hideous temple and that hellishvoid, yet ns knew ns must, barring some miracle, return....At last my eyes flew open. I was not beneath the tree. I was sprawled top top arocky slope, my clothing torn and disordered. My hands to be bleeding. Ns stood up, pains stabbingthrough me. I known the spot—the ridge wherein I had very first seen the blasted area! Imust have actually walked miles—unconscious! The tree was no in sight, and also I to be glad....Even the knees of mine trousers to be torn, together if I had actually crawled component of the way....I glanced at the sun. So late afternoon! Where had actually I been? i snatched outmy watch. It had stopped in ~ 10:34....II.“So you have actually the snapshots?” Theunis drawled. Ns met his gray eyesacross the breakfast table. 3 days had actually slipped by since my return native Hell’s Acres.I had actually told him about the dream in ~ the tree, and he had actually laughed.“Yes,” ns replied. “They came last night. Haven’t had actually achance to open them yet. Provide ’em a good, cautious study—if castle aren’t all failures.Perhaps you’ll adjust your mind.”Theunis smiled; sipped his coffee. I provided him the unopened envelope and hequickly broke the seal and also withdrew the pictures. That glanced at the very first one, and also the smilefaded indigenous his leonine face. He crushed out his cigarette.“My God, man! Look at this!”I seized the glossy rectangle. It was the an initial picture that the tree, takenat a distance of fifty feet or so. The reason of Theunis’ excited escaped me. Over there itwas, standing boldly on the hill, while listed below it thrived the tropical of grass where I had lain.In the street were mine snow-capped mountains!“There friend are,” ns cried. “The evidence of my story—”“Look at it!” Theunis snapped. “The shadows—there space threefor every rock, bush, and tree!”“He was right.... Below the tree, spread in fanlike incongruity,lay 3 overlapping shadows. Unexpectedly I realized that the picture held one abnormal and also inconsistentelement. The pipeline on the thing were as well lush for the occupational of sane nature, when the trunkwas bulged and also knotted in the many abhorrent shapes. Theunis dropped the snapshot on the table.“There is miscellaneous wrong,” i muttered. “The tree I saw didn’tlook as repulsive as that—”“Are girlfriend sure?” Theunis grated. “The reality is, girlfriend may have actually seenmany points not recorded on this film.”“It shows much more than i saw!”“That’s the point. There is something damnably out of place in thislandscape; something ns can’t understand. The tree appears to imply a thought—beyondmy grasp.... It is as well misty; also uncertain; also unreal to it is in natural!”He rapped nervous finger on the table. That snatched the remaining films and shuffled throughthem, rapidly.I reached for the snapshot he had actually dropped, and sensed a touch of bizarre uncertaintyand strangeness together my eyes absorbed its every detail. The flowers and also weeds pointed in ~ varyingangles, while few of the grass thrived in the many bewildering fashion. The tree seemed too veiledand clouded come be easily distinguished, yet I provided the vast limbs and the half-bent flowerstems that were ready to autumn over, yet did no fall. And also the many, overlapping shadows....They were, altogether, an extremely disquieting shadows—too long or brief when contrasted to thestems castle fell below to offer one a feeling of comfortable normality. The see hadn’tshocked me the work of mine visit.... There to be a dark familiarity and mockingsuggestion in it; something tangible, yet distant as the stars past the galaxy.Theunis came earlier to earth. “Did you point out three suns in yourdreaming orgy?”I nodded, frankly puzzled. Then it dawned top top me. My finger trembled slightlyas i stared at the snapshot again. My dream! that course—“The others are similar to it,” Theunis said. “That same uncertainness;that suggestion. I should have the ability to catch the the atmosphere of the thing; watch it in that reallight, however it is too.... Perhaps later on I shall uncover out, if ns look at it longenough.”We sat in silence for some time. A thought concerned me, suddenly, prompted bya strange, unsure longing to visit the tree again. “Let’s make an excursion.I think I deserve to take you over there in fifty percent a day.”“You’d far better stay away,” responded Theunis, thoughtfully. “Idoubt if you might find the place again if you want to.”“Nonsense,” i replied. “Surely, v these photos to guideus—”“Did girlfriend see any familiar landmarks in them?”His monitoring was uncanny. After looking v the continuing to be snaps carefully,I had to admit that there were none.Theunis muttered under his breath and drew viciously on his cigarette. “Aperfectly normal—or practically so—picture the a spot apparently dropped from nowhere. Seeingmountains at this low altitude is preposterous... However wait!”He sprang from the chair as a hunted animal and raced from the room. I couldhear that moving around in our makeshift library, cursing volubly. Before long that reappeared withan old, leather-bound volume. Theunis opened it reverently, and also peered over the weird characters.“What carry out you contact that?” ns inquired.“This is very early English translate into of the Chronicle of Nath,written by Rudolf Yergler, a German mystic and alchemist who obtained some of his lore fromHermes Trismegistus, the old Egyptian sorcerer. Over there is a passage below that might interestyou—might do you understand why this organization is even further indigenous the natural than yoususpect. Listen.”“So in the year that the black Goat there come unto Nath a shadow the shouldnot it is in on Earth, and also that had actually no form known to the eye of Earth. And it fed on the souls ofmen; they that it gnawed gift lured and also blinded with desires till the horror and also the endlessnight lay upon them. Nor did they watch that i m sorry gnawed them; because that the shadow took false shapesthat men recognize or dream of, and also only freedom seemed wait in the soil of the three Suns. Butit to be told by priests of the Old publication that that who could see the shadow’s true shape, andlive ~ the seeing, might shun its doom and send it ago to the starless gulf of its spawning.This none could do save through the Gem; wherefore did Ka-Nefer the High-Priest store that gemsacred in the temple. And when the was shed with Phrenes, he that braved the horror and also was neverseen more, there to be weeping in Nath. Yet did the shadow depart sated in ~ last, nor shall ithunger again it rotates the cycles roll back to the year of the black Goat.”Theunis paused while i stared, bewildered. Finally he spoke. “Now, Single,I expect you have the right to guess how all this web links up. There is no require of walk deep into the primallore behind this business, but I may also tell you that according to the old legends thisis the so-called ‘Year of the black color Goat’—when specific horrors indigenous the fathomlessOutside are supposed to visit the earth and also do unlimited harm. Us don’t know just how they’llbe manifest, however there’s factor to think the strange mirages and also hallucinations will certainly bemixed increase in the matter. I don’t prefer the point you’ve run up against—the story or thepictures. It may be quite bad, and I warning you come look out. But an initial I must shot to carry out whatold Yergler says—to see if I can glimpse the issue as that is. Fortunately the old Gemhe mentions has been rediscovered—I understand where ns can obtain at it. We need to use it on the photographsand watch what we see.“It’s more or less like a lens or prism, though one can’t takephotographs with it. Who of peculiar sensitiveness might look through and also sketch what hesees. There’s a bit of danger, and the looker may have actually his awareness shaken a trifle;for the genuine shape that the zero isn’t pleasant and also doesn’t belong on this earth.But it would be a lot an ext dangerous no to perform anything around it. Meanwhile, if you value yourlife and also sanity, keep away from the hill—and indigenous the thing you think is a tree ~ above it.”I was an ext bewildered 보다 ever. “How deserve to there be arranged beings fromthe exterior in ours midst?” i cried. “How carry out we know that such points exist?”“You factor in terms of this tiny earth,” Theunis said. “Surelyyou don’t think the the civilization is a preeminence for measuring the universe. There space entitieswe never ever dream of floating under our really noses. Contemporary science is thrusting earlier the borderlandof the unknown and also proving that the mystics were no so far off the track—”Suddenly ns knew that i did not want to look at the picture again; i wantedto damage it. I wanted to run from it. Theunis was arguing something beyond....A trembling, cosmic fear gripped me and also drew me far from the hideous picture, for ns was afraidI would recognize some object in it....I glanced at my friend. He to be poring over the ancient book, a strange expressionon his face. He sat up straight. “Let’s contact the point off for today. I’m tiredof this endless guessing and also wondering. Ns must acquire the loan the the gem from the museum whereit is, and also do what is to it is in done.”“As friend say,” ns replied. “Will you have to go come Croydon?”He nodded.“Then we’ll both go home,” I said decisively.III.I require not chronicle the occasions of the fortnight that followed. With me theyformed a consistent and enervating struggle between a foolish longing to go back to the cryptic treeof dreams and freedom, and also a frenzied dread of the selfsame thing and also all associated with it.That ns did not return is perhaps less a issue of my own will than a issue of pure chance.Meanwhile ns knew that Theunis was desperately energetic in some examination of the strangestnature—something which included a mysterious engine trip and a return under circumstancesof the greatest secrecy. By ideas over the telephone i was make to recognize that he had actually somewhereborrowed the obscure and also primal object discussed in the ancient volume as “The Gem,”and the he was busy devising a method of applying it come the photographs I had left with him.He spoke fragmentarily of “refraction,” “polarization,” and also “unknownangles of an are and time,” and indicated the he was structure a type of box or camera obscurafor the examine of the curious snapshots through the gem’s aid.It to be on the sixteenth day that I got the startling message from thehospital in Croydon. Theunis to be there, and also wanted to watch me in ~ once. He had actually suffered part oddsort the seizure; being uncovered prone and also unconscious by friend who found their means into his houseafter hearing certain cries of mortal agony and also fear. Though still weak and helpless, he hadnow regained his senses and seemed frantic come tell me something and have me carry out certainimportant duties. This much the hospital notified me end the wire; and within fifty percent an hourI to be at my friend’s bedside, marveling at the inroads i beg your pardon worry and also tension had madeon his attributes in so short a time. His very first act was to move away the nurses in order to speakin utter confidence.“Single—I witnessed it!” His voice to be strained and also husky. “Youmust ruin them all—those pictures. I sent out it earlier by seeing it, but the pictures hadbetter go. That tree will never be watched on the hill again—at least, ns hope not—tillthousands the eons bring ago the Year of the black Goat. You room safe now—mankind is safe.”He paused, breath heavily, and continued.“Take the Gem the end of the apparatus and also put that in the safe—you knowthe combination. It have to go ago where it came from, for there’s a time when it may beneeded to conserve the world. They won’t allow me leave here yet, however I have the right to rest if I recognize it’ssafe. Don’t look at through the box as that is—it would solve you together it’s fixed me.And burn those damned photographs... The one in the box and the others.....”But Theunis was exhausted now, and also the nurses progressed and motioned me away as he leaned backand closeup of the door his eyes.In an additional half-hour ns was at his house and also looking curiously at the lengthy blackbox top top the library table next to the i turned down chair. Scattered records blew around in a breezefrom the open window, and also close to the box I known with a queer sensation the envelopeof pictures I had taken. It forced only a moment for me to study the box and detach at oneend mine earliest photo of the tree, and also at the other finish a strange little bit of amber-colored crystal,cut in devious angles difficult to classify. The touch of the glass fragment seemed curiouslywarm and electric, and I might scarcely bear to put it out of sight in Theunis’ wall safe.The picture I tackled with a disconcerting mixture the emotions. Even after I had actually replaced itin the envelope through the rest I had actually a morbid longing to save it and also gloat over it and also rush outand up the hill towards its original. Strange line-arrangements sprang the end of that details toassault and also puzzle my memory... Images behind pictures... Secretslurking in half-familiar shapes.... But a saner contradictory instinct, operatingat the exact same time, gave me the vigor and also avidity the unplaceable are afraid as i hastily kindled a firein the grate and watched the problem envelope burn to ashes. Somehow ns felt that the earthhad to be purged of a horror on whose brink I had trembled, and which was none the less monstrousbecause ns did not understand what that was.Of the resource of Theunis’ wonderful shock ns could type no coherent guess,nor go I challenge to think as well closely around it. The is significant that i did no at any type of time havethe least impulse come look through the box prior to removing the gem and photograph. What was shownin the photo by the neck crystal’s lens or prism-like strength was not, ns felt curiouslycertain, anything that a normal mind ought to be dubbed upon to face. Whatever it was, ns hadmyself been close come it—had been fully under the spell of that is allurement—as itbrooded on the remote hill in the type of a tree and an unfamiliar landscape. And also I walk notwish to recognize what I had actually so narrowly escaped.Would that my ignorance might have stayed complete! I could sleep betterat night. Together it was, my eye to be arrested prior to I left the room by the heap of scattered papersrustling on the table alongside the black color box. All but one to be blank, however that one boring a crudedrawing in pencil. Unexpectedly recalling what Theunis had actually once said around sketching the horrorrevealed through the gem, ns strove to rotate away; however sheer curiosity defeated my sane design. Lookingagain almost furtively, i observed the worried haste the the strokes, and the loose edgeleft by the sketcher’s terrified seizure. Then, in a burst of perverse boldness, ns lookedsquarely at the dark and forbidden design—and dropped in a faint.I shall never describe totally what i saw. ~ a time ns regained mine senses,thrust the sheet right into the dying fire, and also staggered out v the quiet streets to my home.I thanked God the I had not looked through the decision at the photograph, and prayed ferventlythat I can forget the drawing’s disastrous hint that what Theunis had actually beheld. Since thenI have actually never been fairly the same. Even the fairest scenes have seemed to organize some vague, ambiguoushint that the nameless blasphemies which may underlie lock and kind their masquerading essence.And yet the lay out was for this reason slight—so small indicative that all the Theunis, to judge fromhis guarded accounts later on on, must have actually discerned!Only a few basic aspects of the landscape were in the thing. For the mostpart a cloudy, exotic-looking vapor overcame the view.
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Every thing that can have been familiarwas viewed to be component of something vague and also unknown and altogether un-terrestrial—somethinginfinitely vaster than any human eye can grasp, and infinitely alien, monstrous, and hideousas guessed from the fragment in ~ range.Where ns had, in the see itself, watched the twisted, half-sentient tree,there was right here visible just a gnarled, disastrous hand or talon with fingers or feelers shockinglydistended and also evidently groping towards something top top the ground or in the spectator’s direction.And squarely below the writhing, bloated digits I thought I saw an overview in the grass wherea man had actually lain. But the sketch was hasty, and also I might not it is in sure.