The H.P. Lovecraft Wiki
Advertisement

This subject is written on a topic in the real world and reflects factual information. This subject contains information from the Expanded Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. "The Caller of The Black" is a Cthulhu Mythos story by Brian Lumley, part of a series featuring the occult investigator Titus Crow. Its first appearance was as the title story of Lumley's first collection, published by Arkham House in 1971.

Lumley later wrote of the piece, "One of my first stories, written in 1967 before any of my work had been published, 'Caller' is derivative not only of H. P. Lovecraft’s work but also the work of others, more especially of August Derleth."[1]

In the story, Cabot Chambers comes to Titus Crow for help, having fallen afoul of James Gedney, an evil magician. Crow is unable to save Chambers, but turns the malignant entity Gedney has summoned back upon him.

Characters[]

Titus Crow: An occult investigator with an extensive library of arcane lore. He has "many friends in positions which...make them extremely useful ... when a bit of detective work is necessary."--including the curator of the Special Books Department at the British Museum. Crow lives near London in a place called Blowne House, a "sprawling bungalow." He is six feet tall.

James D. Gedney: The leader of a "Devil-Cult"; it's said that the "things that man does would make the Marquis De Sade in his prime appear an anaemic cretin." His "contacts were the worst sort of people and his favourite haunts were, in the main, very doubtful establishments"--including the "dimly lit Demon Club." He is described physically as resembling a thinner Bela Lugosi: "His hair is black as night and swept back from a point low in the centre of his forehead. His eyebrows are bushy above hypnotic eyes of the type you often find in people with very strong characters." The six-foot-tall Crow has to look up at him. Gedney has a country house not far from London.

Symonds: A "well-to-do" young man who joins Gedney's cult out of a boredom, then was killed by occult means when they had a falling out.

Cabot Chambers: Another wealthy thrill-seeker who was initiated into Gedney's cult; he lives "on the outskirts of town, near the old Purdy Water-mill". After the death of Symonds, he seeks Crow's help. Crow is unable to save Chambers, but learns that Gedney is using an entity known as "The Black" to eliminate his enemies.

The Black[]

The supernatural threat faced in this story is "The Black", an emanation that can be used to kill enemies at a distance. It is referred to in the Necronomicon as the "blood of Yibb-Tstll, that which liveth apart from him and eateth souls, that which smothers and is called Drowner". It resembles black snowflakes, which cluster around a victim and kills by asphyxiation. It can be fended off by running water.

According to the "legends of Hyperborea"_ the Ptetholites, a "prehistoric, sub-human race", used to send the Black against their enemies, including "Edril Ghambiz and his Hell-Hordes, ensconced on the pre-neolithic isle of Esipish in what was then the North Sea". They inscribed a warning—one which they ignored until their doom—on the Broken Columns of Geph about how the Black may turn upon its sender.

Connections to the Mythos[]

Crow describes his "ample library of occult and forbidden things" as containing

such works as Feery’s Original Notes on The Necronomicon, the abhorrent Cthaat Aquadingen, Sir Amery Wendy-Smith’s translation of the G’harne Fragments (incomplete and much abridged)—a tattered and torn copy of the Pnakotic Manuscripts (possibly faked)—a literally priceless Cultes des Goules and many others, including such anthropological source books as the Golden Bough and Miss Murray’s Witch Cult,

Crow owns as well a copy of Justin Geoffrey's People of the Monolith, which supplies a clue to the threat Crow faces. He also mentions an old book that's “not for the squeamish" that he "had the good fortune to pick up in Cairo," that contains "numerous notes purporting to relate to certain supernatural invocations." He later appears to refer to this book as the Ibigib.

Crow consults with "an American friend," a New Englander based in Arkham who is "wonderfully erudite in his knowledge of folklore and things of dread and darkness," who "had studied in bygone years under that acknowledged genius of Earth’s elder-lore, Wilmarth of Miskatonic University." It's this friend who tells Crow about the Ptetholites.

Publication History[]

After lending its title to the collection The Caller of the Black (Arkham House, 1971), the story was reprinted in Lumley's collections The Compleat Crow (W. Paul Ganley, 1987), Dagon's Bell and Other Discords (New English Library, 1994), and Haggopian and Other Stories (Subterranean Press, 2008).

Lumley wrote a sequel to the story, called "The Black Recalled," that first appeared in the program of the 1983 World Fantasy Convention.

References[]

  1. Haggopian and Other Stories, "The Caller of the Black" (introduction), by Brian Lumley (Subterranean Press, 2008).
Advertisement