The Shadow over Ipswich, Part Two
Shed no Light during SWP Shadow.
The Shadow over Ipswich, Part Two.
“No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms –
This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath
For the fiend’s glowing hoof to see the wrath
Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.”
During the winter of 2013-14 officials of the Eastern Region Soviet made a hidden investigation of certain incidents in the ancient Suffolk seaport, Ipswich. The public have yet to learn of what transpired when a series of raids by the People’s Militia, were followed by the demolition of a vast meeting room of the “Order of the C’l’ff” in Fore Street, near the town’s waterfront.
Attentive followers of Facebook and Twitter wondered at the prodigious number of resignations from the ‘Order of C’l’ff’ and its charitable wing, the Soc’l’st W’rk’rs P’r’t’y. There were allegations about obnoxious behaviour and a ‘cult’ of the Old Ones. One Blog, known for its willingness to repeat slanders, hinted at worse to come. That the ‘Order’ issued repeated attacks on (unnamed) “slurs of the Internet” only heightened people’s curiosity.
But they really knew very little, for wide salt marshes, forty kilometres wide, and crossable only via an irregular causeway, keep Ipswich isolated from the rest of the world.
It was I who fled frantically out of Ipswich in the early morning hours of December the 2nd 2013. It was my frightened appeals that brought the Eastern Region Soviet to act. It is time now to tell of those few dreadful hours in that ill-rumoured and evilly shadowed seaport of death and blasphemous abnormality, and the doings of the Order of C’l’ff.
I had often heard of Ipswich, as I live there. Down by Fore Street lie buildings of departed grandeur. As an amateur antiquarian I would often stroll down there, on the way to Poseidon Quay. Many of the habitations are abandoned; others house 99p shops and pay-day loan offices. But towards the road’s end is (or was) a huge building, resembling a Masonic Hall. A faded legend, ‘Esoteric Order of C’l’ff’ was written on its front.
There had been rumours of strange goings on inside this Temple. One day I saw an old man lingering in the street, plainly destitute. He asked me for a sub. I gave him a two-litre bottle of white cider and a tin of Carlsberg Special.
After a few healthy sips he began to talk, and the Order seemed to be his favourite subject.
“That’s whar it all begun – the cursed place of all wickedness, war the deep waters comes up in thar cellars.”
“Never was nobody like Cde Curtis. Heh heh! I kin mind him a-tellen bout furren ideologies, an’ callin’ all the folks stupid for goin’ to Trades Council meetin’, an’ backin’ UNITE. He git a better leader, Hicks war his name. Sed his boi would lick McClusky. Shew us thar Sunday Times and Hicks war all ‘ver her pages. Sed if we worshiped C’l’ff we’d get rewards like that.”
Here the old man faltered, mumbled, and lapsed into a moody and apprehensive silence.
I rushed to the Eagle Street grog shop and bought some more tinnies of Special Brew.
I handed them over and he gurgled one swiftly down.
“There were 23 of ‘em as joined. Well, bor, you’d as seed them in her purple robes all outsider the Temple. One, we calls it Sideshow, had harr as red as blood. Then a’night we hars the sounds within…”
“Iä! Iä! C’l’ff fhtagn! C’ll’n’c’s fhtagan! K’m’r fhtagan! Ph’nglui mglw’naf h C’l’ff! R’lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn…”
“Oi went to library and looked to a-readin’ the mad Arabist Al-Harmoon’s Necronomicon. They sed that Cde Curtis war only folks as looked at her befor’.”
He shuddered and pulled at the lager.
“The Order grewed and grewed. Central Committee moved to Ipswich and I seed C’ll’c’s and K’m’b’r all a lordly and strutin’. They selled the Soc’l’st W’rk’r every day on the Corn Hill and ain’t anybody who durst not buy a copy. The replaced Trades Council with Unite the ‘R’s’st’nc’, and all the old officers just vanished.”
“People o’ the Order as begun to change. Some sed they seed them a’swimin’ in the old harbour, going ‘wards the Orwell Island.”
“Seems like these Old Ones are some kinda gods, and they’s needs more than a-worshipin’. The haowlin’ night arter night from the Temple…them as had doubts bout Central Committee had ‘accidents’ jumping off Orwell Bridge…. there was violations….then some ordinary folks disappeared and they reckoned you could har the eldritch screams from Fore Street….but I ain’t telled you the wust!”
“Cde Curtis, can’t shet his eyes no more, an’ is all aout o’shape. I seed him bare-foot and his had nine webbed toes!”
The chap halted, glanced furtively around, and shambled off.
I informed the Eastern Region Soviet and the events recounted above took place.
But I was once a student sympathiser of the Soc’l’st W’rk’rs P’r’t’y.
At night I have frightful dreams. I met the Old One, C’l’ff under the sea. He lives in a phosphorescent palace of multiple terraces, surrounded by leprous corals. Cde. Curtis is at his right side, and looks at me sternly. C’l’ff tells me that I have to come for a “little talk”.
I took my slughorn….
I shall swim out to that brooding island in the River Orwell and dive down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columned Clifton, where in the Deep the Old Ones of the Soc’l’st W’rk’rs P’r’t’y dwell amidst wonder and glory.