THE LOVECRAFT CODE

PETER LEVENDA

 


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GREGORY ANGELL is a disillusioned professor of religion and ancient languages who has seen first-hand the violence of religious fanaticism in war-torn Mosul, in Iraq. He now sleeps with a gun under his pillow in his Brooklyn apartment and waits for the conflagration to come.

So he’s just the man for the job.

A mysterious unit of America’s clandestine security apparatus has discovered evidence that a new brand of terror is on the rise: a cult that worships an alien god and seeks to resurrect a religion that was old when the world was young. Angel is recruited to find the cult, trace its movements, and seize the Book that is at the heart of the frenzy that has united elements of the world’s major religions in a desperate search for the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

At the same time, cells of the cult have surfaced in New Orleans, Iraq, Afghanistan and deep beneath the mountains of Nepal. Somehow, this all has something to do with Angell’s ancestor, an archaeologist and scholar of Oriental languages at Brown University in the first decades of the twentieth century.

And with a Nazi spy in Florida who believed he had discovered the key to the re-animation of dead matter.

And with the Yezidis, a sect on the verge of annihilation by the Islamic State.

And ultimately with the father of Gothic horror, H.P. Lovecraft, and the mystery of what was stolen from his apartment in 1925.

What Angell unknowingly seeks is the dark secret at the heart of what it means to be human, and what it says about the divine. It’s the source of genuine terror, and it’s not anything that Angell could have imagined.

THE

LOVECRAFT

, C O D E

PETER LEVENDA

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Published in 2016 by Ibis Press A division of Nicolas-Hays, Inc.

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ISBN: 978-0-89254-217-8

Ebook: 978-0-89254-633-6

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DEDICATION

to

Donald and Yvonne Weiser

From BBC News April 12, 2003:

Looters Ransack Baghdad Museum

Thousands of valuable historical items from Baghdad’s main museum have been taken or destroyed by looters. Nabhal Amin, deputy director at the Iraqi National Museum, blamed the destruction on the United States for not taking control of the situation on the streets. On Saturday, Unesco—the UN’s cultural agency—has urged the US and Britain to deploy troops at Iraq’s key archaeological sites and museums to stop widespread looting and destruction. … The museum’s deputy director said looters had taken or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years.

CONTENTS
Prologue
Book One: Chatter
Chapter One: Remote Viewing
Chapter Two: Chatter
Chapter Three: Mother Night
Chapter Four: The Anatomy of Melancholy
Chapter Five: Wings
Chapter Six: A Rich Uncle
Chapter Seven: The Libel
Chapter Eight: The Codex
Chapter Nine: The Horror in Clay
Book Two: Tentacles
Chapter Ten: Submission
Chapter Eleven: The Codex II
Chapter Twelve: Ahl al-Kitab
Chapter Thirteen: The Horror at Red Hook
Chapter Fourteen: The Gate to the Underworld
Chapter Fifteen: The Towers of Satan
Chapter Sixteen: The Towers of Silence
Chapter Seventeen: The Codex—III
Chapter Eighteen: The Eidolon
Chapter Nineteen: Kafiristan
Chapter Twenty: The Big Uneasy
Chapter Twenty-One: The RV
Chapter Twenty-Two: Codex IV
Chapter Twenty-Three: Black Book, Black Sites
Chapter Twenty-Four: Codex V
Chapter Twenty-Five: The Lurker at the Threshold
Chapter Twenty-Six: When the Stars are Right
Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Beyul
Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Tulku
Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Codex VI
Book Three: The Black Book
Chapter Thirty: The Terton
Chapter Thirty-One: Extraordinary Rendition
Chapter Thirty-Two: Death and Resurrection
Chapter Thirty-Three: Walpurgisnacht
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Beast in the Cave
Chapter Thirty-Five: The Babylonian Protocol
Chapter Thirty-Six: Losing My Religion
Chapter Thirty-Seven: “Is R’lyeh Burning?”
Chapter Thirty-Eight: The Pandora Effect
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Climate Change
Chapter Forty: Raptor/Rapture
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
About the Author

PROLOGUE

… those who are without are my adversaries, hence they oppose me. Nor do they know that such a course is against their own interests, for might, wealth, and riches are in my hand, and I bestow them upon every worthy descendant of Adam. Thus the government of the worlds, the transition of generations, and the changes of their directors are determined by me from the beginning.

—Kitab al-Jilwa, the Yezidi Book of Revelation

… the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon

—“The Call of Cthulhu,” H. P. Lovecraft

Mosul, Northern Iraq April 15, 2003

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Faruq, the plainclothes security officer of the Mukhabarat—the Iraqi Intelligence Service—bent over the victim. The skinny old man was tied to a pipe that ran the length of the basement room where he was being held. He had not eaten in days. He had not bathed in weeks, not since the water had been shut off during the bombing, and he smelled like a corpse. His clothes consisted of a tattered pair of shorts, which was all that was left after the guards ripped off his clothes as they laughed. The security officer had insisted that his groin be covered so he would not have to look at the gaping wound. He had nothing but contempt for the man, who was not even an Iraqi but a Yezidi.

“We should have wiped out all of you when we had the chance. We did our best, anyway. Chemicals, biologicals, bombs. Whatever came out of Saddam’s box of tricks. But it still wasn’t enough.” Faruq spat in the face

of the man, who had long since ceased to react to anything but the worst pain. To men like Saddam, the Yezidis—like the Kurds—were not Muslim. They were not even Arab. He didn’t know what they were, and he didn’t care. All he knew was that they threatened his hegemony over Iraq and for that reason had to be destroyed.

“I will ask you again, kafir. Where is the book?”

The victim was long past whimpering. He knew that another punch, another kick was inevitable. More electricity, probable. Another dunking of his head in the overflowing toilet, extremely likely. He had surrendered what it was to be human. What it was to be a human being. His soul was now hovering over his body, straining at the golden cord that connected them together.

The victim had once been a man. But that was before the attack on Baghdad with its feeble excuse of weapons of mass destruction. That was before the events of September 11, 2001 ruined everything for everyone. He had been a man. Before the Mukhabarat found him cowering in a neighbor’s house and dragged him out and onto the back of a flatbed truck. He had been a man before they kicked him so hard and so often in his genitals that it no longer mattered what gender he had once been. Whatever it was, he was no longer.

He had been an employee in the Baghdad Museum. He had been one of the last to leave when the Americans came earlier that month. They had tried—all of them, all of the museum staff—to save what they could before the barbarians and the bombs destroyed Iraq’s ancient inheritance: the artifacts from Babylon, Akkad … Sumer. He had done his share, grabbed what he could, and made for the north. For Mosul, near the ancient city of Nineveh. Mosul was at the edges of Kurdish territory, and he had friends and family there who would hide him and his treasure.

Some cylinder seals. A vase from the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Some steles. And a book.

The book had been wrapped carefully and placed in a waterproof box. He had not dared open it, but one night before the Guard came to arrest him his neighbor’s daughter had been too curious. Only eleven years old, she had pried open the box when he was asleep. She could not read the ancient lettering, the handwritten manuscript that covered hundreds of brittle pages. But when he woke up—the victim who had once been a man

—he saw what she had done and before he could scold her he recognized the title of the book.

It was not a title page the way modern books are printed. It was only mentioned in the opening paragraph. Kitab al-Azif. It is a strange name in Arabic. Azif refers to the sounds made by insects. “Buzzing,” perhaps. Or “whining,” as in the sound made by a mosquito. Or the strange choral chanting of the cicadas. He did not know the English word, but he knew the reputation of the book.

It was not as old as the other antiquities in the Baghdad Museum. By comparison, it was almost modern. Ninth century, perhaps. Under normal circumstances it should never have been in the museum at all, but the fame and notoriety of the Kitab al-Azif made it an invaluable part of the museum’s collection. Like many of his people, he knew its history and the purpose to which the book had been put, centuries ago.

And he knew the only ones who could be entrusted with it now.

His arrangements had been made only a day before Mukhabarat Division 5

—Counterintelligence—found him. The lackeys of the great Saddam did not care about the steles or the cylinder seals, and the vase merited only a passing glance. They only wanted the book.

And the book was the very last thing he would give them. He would give his life first.

There was a rumbling beneath the ground that traveled up the feet and along the spines and shook the very skulls of the guards. Tanks. Armored vehicles of all types. The dreaded helicopters. “Boots on the ground.” The Americans were in Mosul. Time was running out.

The security officer was in better shape than his victim, but not by much. He had only eaten some dry bread in the past twelve hours, washed down with weak tea. This operation was off the books as far as Iraqi intelligence was concerned. They could have cared less at this point about the Kitab al-Azif. Everyone was scrambling to save themselves and whatever money or valuables they could find before scurrying across the border west into Syria or north into Turkey, their uniforms left behind so as not to identify them. Some, the Shiites, were getting a warmer welcome in Iran but to get there they would have to go through Kurdish territory.

Kurdish territory was a dangerous place to be for a member of the Iraqi security services. The Kurds had a long list of grievances against Iraq and especially against the brutal, murderous regime of Saddam Hussein. He and most of his colleagues were caught in a trap between the Coalition forces to the south, and Kurdish territory to the north and east. He would have to go across into Syria from Mosul, if he could avoid Kurdish and Coalition patrols along the way. No matter; his job before the American invasion had been to infiltrate the Syrian intelligence networks that were constantly sending spies across the border into Iraq. He knew who they were and how they operated, and how to cross over into Syria undetected.

But Faruq was no ordinary policeman. He was a member of a sect that made even the hated Crusaders look like orthodox Muslims. And this was their last chance to get their hands on the one document that would give them the power to unite the secret tribes across all of the Middle East and Central Asia into one victorious army that would take back what had been stolen from them during the time of the Prophet. His brothers were scattered from Kailash to Kashmir, descendants of races that had been converted to Islam with fire and sword but who worshipped the Old Ones in secret, in clandestine shrines deep within the mountains and valleys of an ancient empire that had stretched from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

And all that was standing between them and the ultimate revenge was a skinny academic with a broken body and a soul that was struggling to leave it.

An explosion rocked the street above. Mud and plaster rained down on them from the ceiling. The victim did not seem to notice, but his captor was intensely aware that time was running out. He had to make this fool talk, and his options were limited. They all talked eventually, but he did not have the luxury of time. Baghdad had fallen a week ago. Mosul was already in Crusader hands. If he was going to escape Iraq he had to do it now, today. Yet he did not understand why this man was so resistant. Prisoners usually started babbling as soon as they saw the chains, the electrodes, the filthy toilet. This man—he glanced again at the museum identification card in his hand—this Fahim Abd Al-Latif was an archivist, no more than that. They had located his family, but most of them had already fled, including his wife and two sons. The only leverage he had was the neighbor and the neighbor’s young daughter.

It was from the girl that they got the confirmation that the book existed, and they did not have to torture her to get it. She seemed eager to please. Her father, on the other hand, proved more recalcitrant. They could hear his screams from the cell next door. Pointless to torture him now, but the guards were angry at the fall of the regime and were taking it out on the fat man who had fathered such a beautiful girl.

The security officer went to the door and called for the girl to be brought

in.

Fahim did not look up, nor did he give any indication that he knew what

was going on. It might already be too late, thought the officer.

The girl was brought in.

She was young and wore no veil, and was dressed simply. Her eyes were an amazing blue in a dirty but otherwise very pale complexion. She was Yezidi, there was no doubt about that. Even her hair was light in color, what might have been a honey brown hue if it had been washed and combed properly.

The officer took the girl by the hand and stood her in front of Fahim, who still had not looked up from the floor. He felt the front of her dress, rummaging across her chest, and understood that she was already on the verge of womanhood.