Out of the Aeons

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"Out of the Aeons" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft and Hazel Heald, a writer from Somerville, Massachusetts. It is one of five stories Lovecraft revised for Heald. (See H. P. Lovecraft bibliography) It focuses on a Boston museum that displays an ancient mummy recovered from a sunken island.

Plot summary[edit]

The story is told from the point of view of the curator of the Cabot Museum in Boston. In 1879, a freighter captain sighted an uncharted island, presumably risen from its sunken state due to volcanic activity. From it, he recovered a strange mummy and a metal cylinder containing a scroll. A year later, the mummy is put on display in the museum, and the island vanishes without a trace.

Over the years, the mummy garners a reputation as a possible link to an ancient tale from the Black Book by von Juntz of a man named T'yog, who challenged Ghatanothoa, one of the gods of Yuggoth, using the power of a magical scroll. In his sleep, however, one of the cultists stole the true magical scroll and replaced it with a fake one, and T'yog was never seen again. When the possible link to the Black Book and T'yog reaches the general public, the narrator begins to notice more and more suspicious foreigners coming to the museum.

Soon, several attempts are made to steal the mummy. During one attempt, two men die as the mummy seemingly springs to life, opens its eyes and reveals an image of the approaching form of Ghatanothoa. The image has the power of Ghatanothoa to mummify any who view it, but it only frightens the curator. Though he does not understand what he has seen, the curator is horribly shaken. He orders an opening of the mummy's braincase. The curator and all present are shocked that the mummy's brain is still alive. The mummy is the living remains of T'yog, and is aware of its surroundings.

Adaptations[edit]

Robert Bloch wrote a screen adaptation of the story for the 1971 TV series Night Gallery, however it was not produced. It was rewritten by Alvin T. Sapinsley, filmed, and broadcast as "Last Rites of a Dead Druid". Sapinsley's screenplay bore no relation to the original Lovecraft tale that Bloch had adapted.

Connections[edit]

  • Several members of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos are mentioned in this story, including Shub-Niggurath and Yig, who inspire T'Yog with the scroll to ward off Ghatanothoa's power.
  • The first curator of the Cabot Museum was named "Pickman", sharing a name with the eponymous character of Lovecraft's "Pickman's Model".