Luciele is the type of girl to wear Jack Skellington gloves, the fingers chopped off at the knuckles, threads creeping around her nails (splattered pitch black, of course). She has eyeliner in every shade but “flesh,” shirts in every shade that could creatively be called black, and pen tattoos that dance from wrist to shoulderblade where they end in uncanny squiggles.
Luciele is a goth. A stunningly pretty goth with just enough red in her hair to grab me.
So we met. So we dated. So things happened.
If you’ve met enough Christians, you begin to notice that a great many of them carry Bibles with them at all times. Sometimes they hide them on cell phones or Kindles, but they’re there, somewhere. It’s their identity.
She wasn’t quite a Christian, but she had her own bible of a sort, and it never left her environmentally-friendly free-trade sack. (It wasn’t a purse. She’d’ve been offended if you called it a purse. It was her sack. She had even painted the word “sack” on it, just below the purple rainbow, just about the trees, to make sure that no-one mistakenly called it a purse. Because it totally wasn’t.) This book certainly had enough pages to be a Bible. And each and every word was snuggled close to its neighbor, to cut down on printing costs. But there wasn’t much about God, therein. Though there were a great many squiddy things, dreaming in the depths. H.P. Lovecraft wrote it.
With her highlighter, she poured over the book, taking notes in a small stack of commonplace books. I’ve done this, with my favorite books. It’s a rite of passage, for bookies having discovered their favorite. Most books are left blank. Every book is too sacred to be marred, save those we love the best. My Chesterton, my Holmes, my Carroll are scarred by pen and dye. But she only yellowed Lovecraft, highlighting and questioning (and filling the pages with cupcake crumbs) with the force of a medieval scholar.
One day, when she had read Lovecraft’s every word (from the official writings to apocrypha to letters) she came up to me, slid her hand in mine, and whispered to me of a delectable lunch. I followed. She took me to the Rot, a shoddy cafeteria, so, clearly, she was a liar.
When we settled, she said, without preamble: “Cthulhu’s in the Bible, you know. That means he’s real.”
“Cthulhu! Cool-loo-thu!” she said again, syllable by syllable, to ensure I kept up. “You know him. The damned dreamer. From sunken R’lyeh, He’s in your Bible.” (As Cthulhu’s name was formed in the blasphemous void beyond human comprehension, we can forgive Luciele for mangling the enunciation of her lord’s name.)
“Uh, where?” I stuffed roast beef in my mouth and endeavored to look clever.
“All over the place.”
I perked my eyebrow.
“He’s the patch of godly clouds in Psalms. You know, going around being all black cloudy and striking down people. Totally Cthulhu.” She nodded, sharp, convincing herself as much as me.
“Isn’t he a squid?”
“Kinda. Yeah. Like Godzilla wearing a squid hat.”
Looking at her blankly, I asked, “Then why is Godzilla and his squid hat in a cloud?”
“Cause he can take different forms!”
“Okay.” I upheld my hands, the white flag of boyfriends and husbands. “Where else is old squid-face?”
“Alright. Where else is you god?”
“He’s the unkillable leviathan Job met! He’s keen, there. He goes about munching fishermen and defeating their hooks. They’ve hardly scratched his shell.”
“I thought he was Godzilla wearing a squid hat?”
“No, silly! That’s an analogy — an-now-low-gee!” She smiled brightly and nodded while I digested this exceptionally big word. “He has a shell. And tentacles coming out of his head. And squiddy bits. And other stuff. He’s a god. We can’t expect to fully comprehend his form. I mean, what is your God made of?”
“. . .God-stuff, I suppose.”
“Exactly!” She nibbled on the edge of her toast (all she ever ate at the Rot was toast; it was the only thing she was quite sure hadn’t either been baked in animal byproducts or used to bludgeon one of her “adorable little fuzzies.” Today, she had settled on wheat toast chased by wonder bread. She stuffed a a bagel in her sack for dessert; no cupcakes today). “Cthulhu is also the anti-christ. Dragon with a dozen heads and boiling blood and all that. And horns. He’s horny. The little tenth horn.”
I faced her with my hands. “Where did you find out any of this?”
“Myatt told me! He found it in a book. An old book.” Another round of nodding. “It has to be true!”
“Because Myatt said-so.”
And that was that. Our lunch was over and she was disappointed, disappointed in a quiet that dare not speak its name. She looked at me, longingly, fingering my Bible as if her two foremost fingers were her god’s tentacles. Then she smiled, her mind made up, and muttered something about Myatt coming to give her a ride home.
She had her identity, now, and chose it firmly when she opened the door. I caught a glance inside, just behind the driver: a heap of magic books (helpfully marked by pentagrams and titled Necronomicon and For the Beginning Witch), black black candles darker than even her clothes, and an athame stabbed down into a stack of correspondence.
She left me with one last thought, as her hand escaped mine and her bottom slid down, way down, into a low-slung Mustang: “There are cupcakes in R’lyeh.”
As the Mustang pulled away, I stood there absurdstruck by her statement, wondering if those cupcakes were also a form Cthulhu had taken.