The City of Carcosa
Some miles away a city crouches dimly by the shore, its many spires silhouetted against setting suns. One, vast and bloated red, fills half the sky with its dim light; its brilliant companion sun is far smaller, glaring with eye-stabbing green. As the observers watch, the smaller star is rapidly setting, leaving only thin light, tenuous red-little more than a gray-by which to see.
As the suns set, the towers of Carcosa rise behind the moon. Overhead, the whirling sky takes domination; it is roiling, heavy and wet, an idiot mouth sucking at the stars; a swollen cyanotic mass of a thousand oily alien hues.
A city whose dimensions cannot logically exist.
The cyclopean charnel city is built of ancient black and pitted stone. It towers over the investigators, dwarfing them like fleas. The open gates are a hundred feet wide and a hundred feet high, weighing hundreds of tons. The atmosphere of the city conveys its taint, a stench not just physical. As they breathe in the air of the Yellow King’s attention, the observers slowly, absorb the same madness: for so long as the investigators remain in the city. Within, the streets wind confusingly, malevolently. Blank openings in empty buildings leer. Sometimes the walls turn thin and greasy to the touch; from these places a pale nacreous glow emanates. Apart from the gray light that streams from between the stars, fitful and pestilent, this is the only light.
Tall towers and buildings loom, grotesque, turreted, inhuman: stairs are too narrow and steps too shallow and too high to be built for human feet; four-walled rooms have nine comers; strange shadows drift down dry canals; shadows take on mocking lives of their own; statues of horrible creatures crumble as they pass and then reform; footprints dissolve, and leave unbroken dust where observers walk.
Choosing dim passageways leading down, the city betrays its heritage. Carcosa is built on previous cities, each city in turn plunging the ancestral vaults of the previous city into poisonous endless night. These necropolises extend downward without end-always another stair goes lower. Foul things stir and skitter across the dank, lightless stone. In perverse sepulchers, the grim and vengeful dead stir.
Nightflyers flap over the city. What they are cannot be made out, but they veer from the sinister high tower which periodically stabs the darkness with baleful, bluish beams.
For a while the no one is seen in the streets, though scratching, scrabbling, running, and tittering, can all be heard.
Carcosa becomes more maze-like and surreal. Stairwells plunge straight ahead and down at impossible angles into darkness, only to leave the interlopers stranded in a high tower, or perhaps return to the same street a few feet behind from where they entered. Stairs take inexplicable twists: observers following them down see their companions staring up at them aghast, apparently on the ceiling or the wall, as gravity shifts-who is on the floor, and who is on the ceiling?