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 MOONEY, BRIAN – THE TOMB OF PRISCUS in JONES, STEPHEN (EDITOR) SHADOWS OVER INNSMOUTH  (1994) Victor Gollantz. A horror story related, like others in the Jones anthology, to H. P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth.  A Catholic priest, Father Shear, is summoned to the aid of an archaeology professor, called Calloway. The Professor has some unusual photographs in his collection. One shows a half man half amphibian creature being crucified by a lynch mob. This, Calloway tells Shea, is creature captured after the FBI raids on Innsmouth in Massachusetts, USA. Calloway has had the photo for some time, but now he has discovered that an excavation of a stone circle near Hastings, England has lead to the discovery of a similar find. This times however, the crucified monster, depicted in art, dates from Roman times. The Professor and the priest travel to the dig, which is extremely unpopular with the local population. They see the images of the crucified creature for themselves, and decide to head home. The Professor knows all about the name of the man inscribed on the sculpture, Priscus. He was an obscure roman soldier who was wary of Nero, but who dared to dabble in occultism, and disappeared soon after travelling to England. At the dig, they had met an archaeologist called Wayt, who was behaving oddly. Months after the visit, Shea hears again from his professor friend. Wayt has gone mad. He has started employing young Asian lads on the dig and seems to be starting some kind of cult there.  Calloway leaves Shea to spy on Wayt and heads to London, to allegedly consult some scholars and journals on the matter. As strange amphibian hordes rise up from the sea at the bidding of the mad archaeologist, Shea is caught.  Wayt tells him that the creatures sweeping ashore will take over the World, and hints at sacrificing the modern religious representative to the servants of the old gods. He is rescued when Calloway arrives with the villagers, who help him crucify Wayt. The priest is shocked. Here in effect is a story where the heroes behave as brutally as the villains. The villagers set fire to the cross and the corpse on it. There is also a passing reference to the star stones of Titus Crowe, a Lovecraftian hero in a novel by Brian Lumley, The Burrowers Beneath. It is some of Crowe’s star stones that help reduce the power of the entities helping Wayt. The sea monsters are unable to get up the cliff faces. There are hints that they could resurface elsewhere some time. The army designates the excavation site as being infected with anthrax to deter future investigators reawakening its horrors. http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/theshadowoverinnsmouth.htm

 

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