The Thing on the Doorstep

H.P. Lovecraft
The Thing on the Doorstep
H. P. Lovecraft
It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend,
and yet I hope to show by this statement that I am not his murderer. At
first I shall be called a madman - madder than the man I shot in his cell
at the Arkham Sanitarium. Later some of my readers will weigh each
statement, correlate it with the known facts, and ask themselves how I
could have believed otherwise than I did after facing the evidence of
that horror - that thing on the doorstep.
Until then I also saw nothing but madness in the wild tales I have acted
on. Even now I ask myself whether I was misled - or whether I am not
mad after all. I do not know - but others have strange things to tell of
Edward and Asenath Derby, and even the stolid police are at their wits'
ends to account for that last terrible visit. They have tried weakly to
concoct a theory of a ghastly jest or warning by discharged servants,
yet they know in their hearts that the truth is something infinitely more
terrible and incredible.
So I say that I have not murdered Edward Derby. Rather have I
avenged him, and in so doing purged the earth of a horror whose
survival might have loosed untold terrors on all mankind. There are
black zones of shadow close to our daily paths, and now and then some
evil soul breaks a passage through. When that happens, the man who
knows must strike before reckoning the consequences.
I have known Edward Pickman Derby all his life. Eight years my junior,
he was so precocious that we had much in common from the time he
was eight and I was sixteen. He was the most phenomenal child scholar
I have ever known, and at seven was writing verse of a sombre,
fantastic, almost morbid cast which astonished the tutors surrounding

him. Perhaps his private education and coddled seclusion had
something to do with his premature flowering. An only child, he had
organic weaknesses which startled his doting parents and caused them
to keep him closely chained to their side. He was never allowed out
without his nurse, and seldom had a chance to play unconstrainedly
with other children. All this doubtless fostered a strange secretive life
in the boy, with imagination as his one avenue of freedom.
At any rate, his juvenile learning was prodigious and bizarre; and his
facile writings such as to captivate me despite my greater age. About
that time I had leanings toward art of a somewhat grotesque cast, and I
found in this younger child a rare kindred spirit. What lay behind our
joint love of shadows and marvels was, no doubt, the ancient,
mouldering, and subtly fearsome town in which we live - witch-cursed,
legend-haunted Arkham, whose huddled, sagging gambrel roofs and
crumbling Georgian balustrades brood out the centuries beside the
darkly muttering Miskatonic.
As time went by I turned to architecture and gave up my design of
illustrating a book of Edward's demoniac poems, yet our comradeship
suffered no lessening. Young Derby's odd genius developed
remarkably, and in his eighteenth year his collected nightmare-lyrics
made a real sensation when issued under the title Azathoth and Other
Horrors. He was a close correspondent of the notorious Baudelairean
poet Justin Geoffrey, who wrote The People of the Monolith and died
screaming in a madhouse in 1926 after a visit to a sinister, ill-regarded
village in Hungary.
In self-reliance and practical affairs, however, Derby was greatly
retarded because of his coddled existence. His health had improved, but
his habits of childish dependence were fostered by over-careful parents,
so that he never travelled alone, made independent decisions, or
assumed responsibilities. It was early seen that he would not be equal
to a struggle in the business or professional arena, but the family
fortune was so ample that this formed no tragedy. As he grew to years
of manhood he retained a deceptive aspect of boyishness. Blond and
blue-eyed, he had the fresh complexion of a child; and his attempt to

raise a moustache were discernible only with difficulty. His voice was
soft and light, and his unexercised life gave him a juvenile chubbiness
rather than the paunchiness of premature middle age. He was of good
height, and his handsome face would have made him a notable gallant
had not his shyness held him to seclusion and bookishness.
Derby's parents took him abroad every summer, and he was quick to
seize on the surface aspects of European thought and expression. His
Poe-like talents turned more and more toward the decadent, and other
artistic sensitiveness and yearnings were half-aroused in him. We had
great discussions in
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 14
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.