Monsters at Home: Cthulhu

Cthulhu! The green, sticky spawn from the stars is HP Lovecraft’s most famous creation, a monstrous entity the mere awareness of whose existence can drive a man mad. Let’s have a look at what it gets up to in its spare time.

What does it eat?

‘A mountain walked or stumbled… a gelatinous green immensity’, writes Lovecraft. You don’t get to Cthulhu’s size on a fad diet. But how’s it been getting any food, shut away in slimy stone for untold epochs? Well the Great Old Ones aren’t composed purely of flesh and blood, we learn. Their shapes are ‘not made of matter’. So it could be absorbing all manner of other-dimensional sustenance down there in sunken R’lyeh. Preternatural French Fancies. Gibbous goujons. Daemoniac crispy pancakes.

How does it socialise

Cthulhu and its kin slumber in ‘great Cyclopean cities of Titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror… They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, for Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs.’ The ability to slump immobile at home and yet still be updated second-by-second on everything that’s going on everywhere else has only reached humanity in the last few years with the advent of Twitter. It seems  the Great Old Ones invented it untold aeons of years early.

What does it drink?

‘There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern.’

I don’t know about you but that sounds a lot like me if I start on the Guinness with an empty stomach.

What does it watch on telly?

Cthulhu’s home, the dread sunken city of R’lyeh, is renowned for its impossible geometry – angles that don’t meet up as they should; perspective and the known physical laws defied, that sort of thing. For that reason it stays glued to Coronation Street – a street in which, in case you’ve never noticed, the Rovers Return toilets can only possibly exist if they’re in the same physical space as the Barlows’ living room.

What does it do for fun?

‘Mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.’

Zumba, basically.

How does it reproduce?

We hear in At The Mountains Of Madness about Cthulhu’s prehuman spawn, a race of cosmic octopi who filtered down from infinity and waged war with the starfish-headed people of the Antarctic. I was watching a nice documentary about octopi on Discovery the other night. Their little eggs were lovely. Cthulhu’s spawning would probably be on the grim side though – with Lovecraft everything’s Stygian, or unnameable, or noisome. So I draw a veil. Just don’t Google Image search ‘octopus sex’ as I just did. Really. Don’t.

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