“…a hell of revelation too sudden and insidious to escape…”


As he’s one of my favorite authors and I share so much in common with him (both good and bad), I felt it apropos to post a brief take of mine on his story The Horror at Red Hook on the anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s birth.


Every one of them is young, crew-cut, tall, thickly muscled and uniformed. Huddled together as they are, they seem like a college football coach’s dream. After going over the entry plan with his team, the SWAT captain strides to me. He’s holding two coffee cups; one to drink, the other to catch expectorated tobacco. I wonder if he ever confuses them.

“All right, detective”, says the captain; he spits my title like it were a racist slur. Thankfully, no tobacco comes out along with it.

After placing his cups on the ground, he continues: “We’ll move to the fifth floor by way of the stairs; weapons drawn and at low-search. Upon reaching apartment 517, we’ll announce ourselves then use the battering ram. Once complete, we’ll enter at high-search. If we find it’s safe enough for you, we’ll call you in.”

His last sentence is markedly condescending. I know because I read people for a living, although a 3rd grader would’ve caught it. I don’t play into his hand. I just tell him it sounds good. He grunts, dons his helmet with rest of his group and the operation begins.

Even on this sunny afternoon, the building is dimly illuminated. The multitude of tromping feet kicks up more dust than I’d have thought possible though the place seems like it’s seen no activity since the prohibition era; bone white walls, dark wood steps and wainscoting. The rust-speckled, wrought iron railings keep people from falling off the right side of the winding staircase onto the black and white marble floor below. Art deco electric sconces flicker in the few places they work at all, as if keeping the shadows at bay is exhausting. We reach apartment 517.

The corridor in which I find myself is little different than the staircase. Only the deep red carpet and series of doors let me know I’ve gotten anywhere. Three SWAT cops – captain included – stand on the left side of the door, closer to me though I’m a few yards farther back. Two stand to the door’s right. The sixth and final member of their cadre stands in front of the sealed ingress. Number six pounds on the door, shouting “Police, we have a warrant! Open the door now!” The face shield of his helmet muffles the order enough to make me think of a fast food drive-thru. It’s then I hear a high-pitched whine.

It takes the SWAT guys a half-second to notice, considering the helmets they wear, but they do hear it. I’m only wearing a cheap suit and my badge on a chain around my neck – as policy mandates. The operation stalls for a mere instant as the captain and a couple of his men check their communication gear for feedback or a malfunction. It’s at that point a pale, blue light floods out of the apartment from under and around the door. Number six raises the battering ram and the door explodes – towards him.

He’s killed just as the ram reaches the pinnacle of its backswing. His head and arms are torn off by… something. They, along with the ram, hit the floor in a pile. The others start screaming.

In a heartbeat, the room is full of gunfire and its accompanying smoke. Catatonic, I watch as the SWAT team gets torn to shreds. The room, bathed in blue and red, morbidly reminds me of the lights on a patrol car.

It’s over as fast as it began. Despite the ringing in my ears from the brief, thunderous cacophony, I hear footsteps leave the apartment and head the opposite way down the hall. I can’t see the figure clearly due to the poor light, the smoke and my shock. My pants are warm and very wet. Given events, I assume I pissed them. When I finally regain enough self-control to look down, I see: I didn’t.




7 Responses to ““…a hell of revelation too sudden and insidious to escape…””

  1. […] “…a hell of revelation too sudden and insidious to escape…” […]

  2. So – if I understand correctly – this is your version (modernized slightly I imagine) of part of a story H.P. Lovecraft wrote?

    If so – I’d buy the book if you wrote the rest of it.


  3. […] “…a hell of a revelation too sudden and insidious to escape…” (Rob Dougan – Clubbed To Death […]

  4. Reblogged this on tharwolf and commented:
    A too-short story… I want more.

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