“It was no common series of mischances which had made me lose my way in this roofless, unseen tangle of corridors. Far from it. Beyond doubt, the place was a genuine maze—a labyrinth deliberately built by these hellish beings whose craft and mentality I had so badly underestimated.”
– H.P. Lovecraft, In the Walls of Eryx

“Wakka Wakka Wakka”
– The Pac-Man

I woke to find myself lying upon a hard, polished surface in a dark, stygian place consumed by a most wretched and ravenous hunger. Of how I arrived at this unhappy fate one could only speculate. Had I been blinded by some vicious assailant and left here to starve? Was this Hell? Or – more prosaic and yet more terrifying in its aspect – had I been stitched-up once again by those vile scoundrels from the Miskatonic Polytechnic Rugby Union Club?

The darkness was absolute and impenetrable, as though both moon and starlight had been extinguished from the night-black sky by some vast cloak of pure obsidian that had been draped over the firmament and painted black with several coats of black emulsion. The hunger, too, was quite unprecedented. I yearned – oh, how I yearned! – for some scant morsel of sustenance from the unforgiving gloom. I recalled a line from Thomas de Quincey’s infamous Diary of an English Opium-Eater, in which he described a grub-craving so profound that he could “steal a sticky bun from the pocket of a tramp.”

I thought, too, of my fiancée, P. – what had become of her? Would I ever gaze lovingly again at her pretty, bright blonde face? Would I once again sniff her luxuriant golden locks? Was I doomed to never again find myself entangled in her delightfully enormous red hair bow?

Such lovelorn speculations were cut short by a sudden eruption of incandescent light. I found myself betwixt two shimmering walls of electric-blue neon, and something about the scene reminded me of a strange and disturbing passage from the dreaded Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred in which he gave a vivid account of a regrettable stag weekend in Amsterdam.

Dazzle-induced phosphorescent dots slowly cleared from my field of vision, although a few stubbornly remained like uninvited housepests who can’t take a hint. The dots were aligned in single file along the polished black floor, roughly spheroid in shape and with a distinctly tacky texture, as though dipped in some blasphemous blend of chipgrease. Despite their strange and eldritch appearance, they looked quite tasty – not unlike the contents of a Friday night burger van. Desperate with hunger and with scant regard for gentlemanly conduct, I greedily wolfed it down.

I gingerly chomped my way along the corridor and discovered that it formed part of a maze. It seemed like a vast, Cyclopean network of unimaginable scale that embodied monstrous perversions of geometric laws, but upon closer inspection it was actually quite small.

Then I heard them.

Objects shuffled and slithered in the distance – unseen as yet, but unmistakably ancient and terrible in nature – like a bingo team searching for their dentures. They seemed to come from an antechamber at the centre of this somewhat uncomplicated labyrinth, and I was gripped by a most primitive sense of dread and foreboding. Hackles rose at the back of my wide neck, icy beads of sweat erupted across my ample forehead, there was a most terrible sinking sensation at the pit of my spherical stomach. I also let off a fart.

Of my first glimpse of these vile abominations I have this to say: they were a quartet, but not of the barber shop variety – unless this was a barber shop located in Hell and staffed by slime-spewing, protoplasmic junior stylists draped in membranous cloaks of red, orange, lilac and powder blue. Their very presence was a ghastly affront to every known law of nature, like Donald Trump arriving at a fancy-dress gala disguised as Shirley Temple. They were, without doubt, the fiendish “Shoggoths” described in the ghastly, grisly and gruesome Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred [which later spawned the hit Broadway musical, ‘Lulu and Cthulhu Go Wild in Honolulu’].

And now, these hideous monstrosities were running towards me!

They advanced with preternatural haste and I ran like supermarket mascara, continuing to fill my face and pausing only to lick the occasional dropped crumb from the polished floor (though terror-stricken beyond my wildest imaginings, I was still feeling quite peckish). My recollection of what followed is somewhat blurry due to the fact that I was running at the time. At one stage I discovered an exit, but this perverted threshold only led me back into the maze. Later, I encountered an immense cherry that frustratingly blocked my path, but was – I must admit – rather tasty.

As the ferocious miscreants continued to chase me, I turned a corner and chanced upon an large, exotic dessert that seemed to generate a halo of otherworldly radiance quite beatific in nature. I gazed at this glorious thing, transfixed by its celestial beauty, then gobbled it down with tremendous gusto.

My entire body was filled with a most tremendous surge of energy, as though every muscle, vein and sinew had been pumped full of jam doughnuts soaked in Red Bull. In the same instant, the colour drained from my vile tormentors, their malevolent multi-colour demeanour replaced by a less-intimidating blue. Instinctively, I lurched towards the first and – before my very eyes – his cloaked corporeal form dissolved into nothingness, leaving only his ghastly eyes which scuttled off with haste. O, sweet respite! The hunter had become the hunted! The hors d’oeuvres chefs had become the hors d’oeuvres! I could not say what was the more delicious: the sweet irony of this turnabout in fortune, or the joy I found in snacking on my foes!

I gave sudden chase to the remaining three, taunting them with obscure Norwegian sea shanties. There’s something about being chased through a neon-lit maze by four vicious ghosts that brings the worst out in a fellow.

It was not to last, however. After catching hold of my second quarry – who also dissolved in my grip like a big, blue Alka Seltzer – I noticed his first companion return to the fray, restored now to its original hue and making haste towards me. Worse yet, his companions were shedding their cowardly blue taint in favour of more fearsome shades like orange and lilac. Alas, my starry banquet’s gifts were of a temporary nature, it seemed.  O woeful turn of circumstance! The hunted who had become the hunter was being hunted by his former hunters once again! My spirits sank like a perforated boat.

I ran again, gripped with terror and a desperate craving for more dessert, but either their pursuit had intensified or my retreat had become more sluggish due to overeating.  With a beast in hot pursuit I took a sharp left, only to find its loathsome comrades blocking my path. Collapsing to the floor as a savage blur of red, orange, lilac and powder blue descended upon me, I tried to suppress another fart, but failed.

It would be the last thing I’d hear before my world returned to darkness.

Slowly, I awoke. Harsh sunlight and fresh air wrenched me from my stupor as I realised my pill-popping persecution by those maze-based monstrosities must have been some dark and diabolical nightmare. I squinted, took a deep breath and tried to recall any pertinent events from the previous evening that might have involved cheese.

Then I noticed something strange. I was not lying upon my bunk at the Miskatonic Polytechnic Halls of Residence but upon a cold, hard metal surface. It was a large steel girder posited on a steep incline that formed part of a vast and crooked construction site some seven storeys or so in height.

I heard a woman scream and leapt to my feet. It was my dear fiancé P., and her cry originated from directly above me, at the very summit of this ill-aligned structure! Next to her, eclipsing the midday sun, was a gigantic and terrible beast that seemed to defy anthropological classification. At first glance it resembled a massive ape, and yet – from my vantage point directly below – it was quite evident that the creature was equipped with certain physical attributes more commonly associated with a donkey.

It was, without doubt, one of the beastly “Old Ones” described in the harrowing, hideous, horrendous, horrible, horrid and horrifying Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred.

And for some inexplicable reason it was throwing giant barrels at me…

Lovecraft's Pac-Man by Tom Lennon

illo by Tom

H.P. Lovecraft\'s forgotten tale of ghosts and gluttony that inspired arcade classic Pac Man