“The Manwich Horror” by H.P. Lovecraft

Today’s special guest blogger is noted horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, who has a spine-chilling tale of his most ghastly Memorial Day ever.

“The Manwich Horror”
by H.P. Lovecraft

Dear Intrepid Reader,

I shall endeavor herewith to convey the myriad horrors of That Day with perfect and forthright candour, though my task is made most Difficult by the limits of my own mind, which, when called upon to travel back through the long, twisting corridors of memory to recall Those Events in detail, chooses instead to descend into a well of blessed Forgetfulness, like a pebble dropped into a fetid black well that is devoid of water but holds instead only Unspeakable Horror.

It began some months with an invitation conveyed through the accepted channels of polite New England society. Sonia, my wan, sickly, melancholic and anemic wife, had received word from a certain Mrs. Whateley of the Boston Whateleys that our presence was requested at at event what the natives of this particular region colloquially call a “Potluck Party” to commemorate a holiday called Memorial Day. Upon our arrival, I inquired of Mrs. Whateley which of the Great Old Ones this “Memorial Day” holiday commemorated – perhaps it was Hastur the Unspeakable, or Ghatanothoa the Usurper, or even Great Cthulhu, the Sleeper of R’lyeh who shall return when the stars are properly aligned.

“Veterans,” she replied. Which I must admit is one I’ve never heard of.

She led us into a brightly lit parlor where there was placed a large oaken table laden with many dishes producing a mélange of odours, some enticing, some . . . decidedly less so. At the center of the arrangement was a metallic Dish covered with a heavy handled lid and from which emanated an Odour that was at once odd and deeply disquieting. With trembling hand, I pointed to the dish and asked, “Praytell, what manner of repast is that?” Part of me had been loath to ask the question, as I thought that I should be happy to go to my grave not knowing the Answer, even as another, deeper part of my mind felt preternaturally compelled to fully unmask the Horror that lay hidden beneath that silver-handled lid.

“It’s Manwich!” our hostess announced, lifting the lid and releasing a fresh and entirely unalloyed blast of the scent I had only sampled before. “It makes a sandwich into a meal,” she added, with a trifling little laugh that carried with it the first disquieting hint of complete and irreversible madness.

Dear reader, I find that I must now beg your forgiveness, for I have come to one of those moments in my tale when I hesitate to continue, for the Horror that must be told so defies comprehension, it beggars the language I possess to describe it. But I shall endeavor to press on as best I can, if only to warn one soul of this abomination.

What lay enclosed within the pot was a crimson, gelatinous mass, reddish in color and fairly heaving with insidious putrefaction. What unholy flesh the hostess had slaughtered for “meat” I cannot hazard a guess, but it looked as though she had eviscerated a Shoggoth and mixed that debased and unholy Matter with the ground tentacles of an Elder Thing. I knew that the noxious concoction could only have come from the famed and accursed book, the Necromonicon Cookbook, Book Three in the Time Life series, “Recipes from the Immortal Abyss.” Oh, that I had never delved into its forbidden culinary knowledge!

I lurched back from the table and fell into the nearest chair, closing my eyes and trying to catch my breath as my reeling mind sought to make sense of a world suddenly gone quite insane. The hostess, apparently oblivious to my distraught condition, now brandished a ‘baker’s roll,’ sliced in half and laid open-faced upon a plate. Uncomprehending, I gazed at her, willing myself to understand her intentions, and finally, as though through a deep Fog, I came to understand to my profound and lasting Horror that she was suggesting I consume some of the abominable concoction, a thought that brought an instant and involuntary rise of bile in the back of my throat and took me as close to the brink of utter Madness as I ever hope to go. Shutting my eyes against the Horror, I attempted to draw a breath, but each inhalation carried with it more of the dreadful scent.

“Try some,” she said, “It’s Manwich!” And then against my every instinct I willed my eyes to open, whereupon I was greeted with the sight – burned forever into my vision as though I had stared too long into the noonday sun – of the hostess approaching my chair carrying a paper plate heavily laden with the Unholy Concoction. Closer, closer, closer she came, and with every step the scent of the Thing, its deep, primordial stench, redolent of the Earth’s deepest places and of Cosmos beyond our understanding, became more malignant in its potency. The hostess reached my side and it was only as she attempted to raise the Infernal Sandwich to my trembling lips that I recognized her true face — surely she was a human-form representative of one of those accursed dark cults one reads about in certain Arcane and Fantastical Periodicals, such as Cthulhu Fancy and Yog-Shothoth Aficionado.

My paralysis broke. Summoning all of the feeble strength my body still possessed, I rose from my seat, thrust aside the proffered plate, and fled the room, the party, and the house as my embarrassed and effusively apologizing wife following belatedly in my wake. But as fast as I ran I could not outpace the sound of Hostess’s voice as she called after me, and it is these words that still echo through my darkest Nightmares:

“Try some! It’s Manwich. It makes a sandwich into a meal! Try some! It’s Manwich. It makes a sandwich into a meal.”

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