Titus Crow [1] The Burrowers Beneath
by my wardrobe, my dressing gown hanging on the door - so that before I knew it I found myself calculating how long it would take me to get out of bed and through the window in the event of-
    I reached out again to switch off the light, purposely turning my back on the cardboard box in an attempt to put its contents from my mind …
    Perhaps I did sleep then for a little while, for I remember a merging of my own drowsing thoughts with Crow’s descriptions of some of his dreams as I recalled their telling; and when this brought me sweatingly back to wakefulness I also remembered his explanation of how he had first been alerted to the existence of the cthonian menace.
    It had been those chants heard in his latter dreams of the burrowers; those chants containing the tell-tale name of a legendary city - G’harne!
    Remembering Wendy-Smith’s expedition in search of that place, and something of the disastrous results, and then tying in certain of the newer contents of his voluminous cuttings-file and the
    details of his underground nightmares themselves, Crow had been led on to the Wendy-Smith document. That document, along with the letter of explanation obtained from Raymond Bentham, had clinched the thing in his mind. The remainder had been merely his normal follow-through of intelligently applied, if weirdly-inspired, logic.
    We had also talked on the spread of Shudde-M’ell and his kin, and had given more thought to the horror’s release from the prison of the Elder Gods. Crow was inclined to the belief that some natural cataclysm had freed the horror-deity, and I could see no better explanation, but how long ago had this convulsion of the Earth occurred - and how far had the cancer spread since then? Wendy-Smith had seemed concerned with the same problem, but Crow had seen Sir Amery’s suggestions regarding a means of combating the creatures as ludicrous.
    ‘Think of it, de Marigny, ‘ he had told me. ‘Just think of trying to destroy the likes of Shudde-M’ell with flamethrowers! Why, these beings themselves are almost volcanic. They must be! Think of the temperatures and pressures required to fuse carbon and chrysolite and whatever else into the diamond-dust composition of those eggshells! And their ability to burn their way through solid rock. Flamethrowers? Hah! They’d delight in the very flames! It truly amazes me, though, the changes these beings must go through between infancy and adulthood. And yet, is it really so surprising? Human beings, I suppose, go through equally fantastic alterations -infancy, puberty, menopause, senility - and what about the amphibians, frogs, and toads … and the lepidopter-ous cycle? Yes, I can quite believe that Sir Amery killed off those two “babies” of his with a cigar - but by God it will take something more than that for an adult!’
    And on the secret, subterranean spread of the horrors since that tremendous blunder of nature which he
    believed had freed them, Crow had likewise had his own ideas:
    ‘Disasters, Henri! Look at the list of disasters caused by so-called “natural”
    seismic shocks, particularly in the last hundred years. Oh, I know we can’t blame every tremor on Shudde-M’ell - if he, or it, still survives as godhead to its race - but, by heaven, we can certainly tag him with some of them! We already have the list put together by Paul Wendy-Smith; not big stuff, but costing lives nevertheless. Chinchon, Calahorra, Agen, Aisne, and so on. But what about Agadir? My God, but wasn’t that a horror? And Agadir is not far off the route they took to England back in 1933. Look at the size of Africa, Henri. Why! In the other direction the things could have spread themselves all over that great continent by now -the entire Middle East even! It all depends on how many they were originally. And yet, there couldn’t have been too many, despite Wendy-Smith’s “hordes”. No, I don’t think that the Elder Gods would ever have allowed that. But who knows how

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