Horrible, demon-haunted space.  Carter panics for a second, but it’s okay, it’s okay, the ship is just going to the moon, not out to meet Azathoth or Nyarlathotep.  Specifically the ship flies towards that secret and mysterious side which is always turned away from Earth, and which no fully human person, save perhaps the dreamer Snireth-Ko, has ever beheld.  The moon freaks Carter out some, seeing its vast ruins and empty temples and asymmetrical columns.  And what the structure and proportions of the olden worshippers could have been, Carter steadily refused to conjecture.

The ship hits water, landing in an oily moonish sea near vast fields of mushrooms and igloos.  They come to a city of freaky rubbery shapechanging monsters, where the monsters rule over the demon-sailors who sure enough look all nonhuman once they’re out of their turbans and robes.  Carter figures out that the ship is propelled by freaky monster shapeshifting rowers, which eat Parg slaves, and wonders whether any of the Parg men survived long enough to get unloaded and killed here in the moon-city.  Clearly, despite their being nonwhite, Carer feels a closer kinship to the Parg people than he does to the terrible shapeshifting monsters or their devil-sailor slaves.  I guess that’s saying something.

Carter blacks out when they take him into the city, because the city is just too horrible to contemplate.  He comes to in a dark dungeon, where he waits for an unknown time.  Eventually whoever’s in charge decides what to do with him, and he’s pulled out of the dungeon and put in the middle of a big parade line, ten toady freaky monsters and two dozen of their almost-human devil-slaves.

Oh, also: flute playing.  It’s pretty freaky and unpleasant.  Carter should have just stayed in Ulthar.  They’re pretty clearly gearing up to walk him up a mountainside to a high place, where some kind of demon will come down from space and eat him.  It’s looking bad for our boy Carter!

But then he’s rescued!  By, and I am not making this up, an army of cats.  Yeah!  Turns out when cats go out at night and you don’t know where?  They’re having a big cat party on the dark side of the moon.

Carter knows enough of the language of cats to shout to them and beg for rescue, and I absolutely have to just quote this bit verbatim.

The call of the clan had been given, and before the foul procession had time even to be frightened a cloud of smothering fur and a phalanx of murderous claws were tidally and tempestuously upon it. The flutes stopped, and there were shrieks in the night. Dying almost-humans screamed, and cats spit and yowled and roared, but the toad-things made never a sound as their stinking green ichor oozed fatally upon that porous earth with the obscene fungi.

It was a stupendous sight while the torches lasted, and Carter had never before seen so many cats. Black, grey, and white; yellow, tiger, and mixed; common, Persian, and Marix; Thibetan, Angora, and Egyptian; all were there in the fury of battle, and there hovered over them some trace of that profound and inviolate sanctity which made their goddess great in the temples of Bubastis. They would leap seven strong at the throat of an almost-human or the pink tentacled snout of a toad-thing and drag it down savagely to the fungous plain, where myriads of their fellows would surge over it and into it with the frenzied claws and teeth of a divine battle-fury. Carter had seized a torch from a stricken slave, but was soon overborne by the surging waves of his loyal defenders. Then he lay in the utter blackness hearing the clangour of war and the shouts of the victors, and feeling the soft paws of his friends as they rushed to and fro over him in the fray.

Carter passes out, again, in all the excitement.


Primary Sources: the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath 7, the Moon — 1 Comment

  1. I wonder if HPL was prone to fainting. It happens a lot in his books and while he is trying to convey an other-worldly dread that cannot be borne by mortal minds, passing out is pretty much the go-to result.

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