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This subject is written on a topic in the real world and reflects factual information. This subject contains information from the "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles, and while guided by HPL are not based on his work alone. 𝓦𝐓 "The Fire Vampires" is a short story by Donald Wandrei written in 1933, alongside "The Tree Men of M'Bwa," as an addition to the Cthulhu Mythos. It appeared in the February 1933 issue of Weird Tales.

Plot[]

In the distant future, a United Federation of Nations historian named Alan Marsdale reminisces on an apocalyptic event involving a comet. A man named Gustav Norby, an authority on cosmic lifeforms, warned of impending danger from a comet coming on July 7, 2321, but people laughed off his claims. Dubbed 'Norby's Comet', noted for its reddish-blue coloration, it was projected to arrive in 18 years. But on August 10th, on its arrival to Alpha Centauri, it mysteriously vanished, then appeared four days later a billion miles beyond Pluto, perplexing the astronomers and the public, and prompting theories that it was controlled by other lifeforms. The revelation that it would appear near Earth in 16 hours, its approach visible in the sky, prompted reactions from panic to wonderment.

Later the comet mysteriously changed course, moving in the opposite direction of Earth's rotation. The comet orbited and illuminated the world, and after a complete orbit exited in the direction of Antares. On August 16th, Norby and his assistant, Hue, argued that, because the comet followed no natural laws, it could return again, as it might have merely been observing Earth like a satellite. Records showed that thousands died under the comet's orbit via spontaneous combustion after a strike of lightning, leaving nothing but bones, and that this phenomenon is still occurring.

Six years later in August, Norby and Hue, after photographing a new star in the Antares cluster, came across a sentient fireball in a tree, of the same color as the comet. They observed in horror as the new creature consumed people in fire with fingers of lightning, and forced them to hide in the observatory. The two realized that this predatory lightning and fire had arrived on Earth from Norby's Comet, and that the new star in the Antares cluster was the comet planning its next move. The two learned on the news that these Fire Vampires were killing people around the world, arriving through electric bolts of lightning.

Later that night, the comet returned, appearing first in China. The comet formed mile-long fiery letters in the sky, spelling a message in appropriate languages over each country:

People of Earth, you are ours by right of conquest. Hence forth and forever you belong to us, of Ktynga, known to you as Norby's Comet. You cannot fight us, nor defeat us, nor evade us. We are superior to you in every way. At irregular intervals, we shall return and claim as our due from 20-50 thousand of your inhabitants. We desire nothing else. But we insist upon the payment, and we shall take it. If you resist, we shall take more. On our next visit, we shall claim John Hanby, the president of the Federated Nations, Axel Gruno, master scientist of the world, Sin Lo Hoi, commander-in-chief of the International Army, Gustav Norby, of the Mount Wilson Observatory. These men must place themselves in the evening of August 27th, 2332, at the peak of Mount Wilson. If they are not there, we shall take 100 thousand lives instead of 20. Fthaggua, Lord of Ktynga.

Convinced this is a hoax, Hue recommended fighting, but Norby notes that these creatures are pure energy and cannot be opposed easily. They even fed on heart, mind, and soul, absorbing knowledge from those they consume, which is how they learned to communicate with humans. Norby believes that they fear him because he poses a threat to them for warning of the dangers beforehand, and so he seeks to prepare for their arrival in the next five years.

Five years later, Norby planned to have three of the specified people arrive to fulfill Fthaggua's request, while he would pretend to be dead. When a witness who had seen Norby alive was consumed, the Fire Vampire discovered the ruse. In retaliation, 100 thousand were killed immediately. The Fire Vampires take Hanby, Gruno, and Hoi, saying they will return on July 17, 2339, threatening to wipe out all of America unless Norby was handed over. Norby and Hue tracked the comet's movement via their telescope, and found on it a fortress with alien geometry, large enough to hold thousands of Fire Vampires. Norby spots a weakness, but doesn't disclose it.

In the next five years, weapons were devised to harm the Fire Vampires, and a massive evacuation, especially in America, was underway to other planets. Overpopulation caused pandemonium, protests, and intermittent warfare. Norby was branded a coward and traitor for causing 100 thousand deaths. On the specified date of July 27th, 2339, Norby stood inside a crater where the observatory had been, as a detonation of several tons of dynamite made it look like a volcanic eruption. Hue stood in the center of the crater on a large flat boulder, with a labyrinth of machinery behind him, including peculiar dynamos. In front of him was an electrointerferometer to detect high electrical discharges and an important triple-switch. When the comet finally arrived, Hue flicked the switch, sending Norby down a hidden trapdoor, with the elaborate machine successfully imprisoning the attacking Fire Vampires. Then a chain reaction connected itself to Fthaggua, and a powerful discharge killed him and all the Fire Vampires on Earth, leaving the comet to orbit the planet.

Norby said that Fthaggua was a unified organism of all the Fire Vampires, which were merely living limbs for him, and thus if he was destroyed, so were all the Fire Vampires. He had guessed that pure energy would be effective against a being of pure energy. He claimed he couldn't help but respect an entity that almost succeeded.

Publication History[]

"The Fire Vampires" has been reprinted in Strange Harvest (1965), an Arkham House collection of Wandrei's work, and in Don't Dream: The Collected Horror and Fantasy of Donald Wandrei (Fedogan & Bremer, 1997).

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