A Study of the THING from Cobb’s Barn

An essay by Doctor Ludwig van Johannes, as provided by Ira Krik
Art by Justine McGreevy

Oh, thrill! Oh, exaltation! I have taken it upon myself to record my most recent scientific discovery, but I’m having trouble finding the words for it. I will preface this by warning you of the scope of my experiences within the past few weeks. I have already wasted too much time trying to convey my excitement and have become confident in the conclusion that it is simply impossible to project the emotional state I’ve found myself in in this or any other language. For that matter, I’m sure I’ll find it difficult to even discuss the nature of my discovery. What is it? That is the question. Just what strange otherworldly affair had I fumbled into? What foreign phenomenon have I found, or rather, has found me?

Perhaps I would find it easier to discuss if I start at the beginning. The morning of farmer Cobb’s phone call. It was only hours before sunrise when he woke me. The poor man was frantic. It took me quite a long time to calm him so that he could tell me his story coherently. He told of a flash of yellow-blue light and a loud crash that awoke him and his wife. Stumbling out of bed and to a window, he found that something had torn right through the roof of his barn, leaving a chimney where smoke funneled into the sky. Hurriedly, he ran out to investigate, taking with him his trusty dog and trustier shotgun.

He recalled to me with urgency the immense dread that filled him as he approached the barn, which had at that point been leaking yellow and green light. It seems his dog refused to enter, opting to keep its distance and bark instead. The farmer continued on without him and had found the source of his dread, perhaps the source of all dread, inside. Where once was a barn floor with hay scattered about and stables on each side, there was now a crater, and inside the crater, a thing. According to him, the thing had features unlike any other thing he had ever seen. It was about the size of a newborn calf. It didn’t seem to carry any definitive shape, though it was certainly a solid. It buzzed and it hummed, and it hurt the farmer’s head to look at. So he didn’t look at it for long before walking back into his house and calling me.

Farmer Cobb’s story had me ecstatic. I had to see it for myself. I beckoned one of my employees to bring the car around, to which it responded by moaning and shaking its fists in the air angrily. We arrived post haste and the farmer showed us into the barn. I saw it then for the first time. Oh, Eureka! Oh, stars! It was magnificent. Cobb’s description over the telephone in no way did the spectacle justice. Looking at this thing, whatever it was, was like having a staring contest with the universe. I felt as though if I took my eye off of it, reality would cave in around us. It was imperative, absolutely crucial, that I unearth its secrets.

A Study of the THING from Cobb's Barn

It had limbs, I believe, though I’m not sure if I should call them arms or tendrils. It held itself up on two of them or six of them, depending on how you looked at it. In the mess of it all, however, two characteristics were very clear. It had claws, and it had eyes. Dark, black, pits of eyes. I looked into those eyes, and they looked back into me. In them, I saw the emptiness that surrounds us all. I saw what came before and what will come after, and I felt dread.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2016 collection.

Doctor Ludwig van Johannes grew up in a small village where he still resides in his tower on the hill. He has never received a formal education, instead educating himself through his own efforts and experiments. His title of Doctor is entirely self-endowed and carries no real merit, though he asks that you refer to him as such anyway.

Ira Krik lives on a creek in the muddy Michigan woods. He has no wife or children, and he prefers it that way. He lives a life of solitude except for the letters sent between him and his colleagues, like those of Doctor Johannes.

Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.

“A Study of the THING from Cobb’s Barn” is © 2016 Ira Krik
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Justine McGreevy

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