In Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, one of the main fictional characters is of course Cthulhu himself. The deity first appeared in Lovecraft’s story, “The Call of the Cthulhu,” which concerns a dangerous cult that worships the Great Old One. 

Originally from the Outer Cosmos, Cthulhu presently resides in the sunken city of R’lyeh at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, sleeping in a tomb and waiting for the stars to align so He can rise to power once again. Cthulhu’s physical description is quite chilling: A combination of human, dragon, and octopus, his human-looking body is gargantuan with green reptilian scales. His head is in the shape of an octopus with numerous tentacles and rubbery feelers around His mouth. Claws holding venom adorn his hands and feet, while a small set of undeveloped wings protrude from his back. 

 “That is not dead which can eternal lie,
 And with strange aeons even death may die.”
  – Abdul Alhazred, the Necronomicon

Why did Lovecraft choose the ocean as the location for the Great Cthulhu, the most prominent member of his mythos, and give him features of an octopus? 

In Lovecraft’s youth (and throughout his life, although to a lesser degree) he wrote numerous essays on scientific topics, particularly chemistry and astronomy. For awhile he even stopped writing fiction to devote time to his amateur periodicals, The Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy and The Scientific Gazette. From his studies, Lovecraft surely must have learned that the Earth’s large bodies of water contain, and regularly give rise to, the most diverse forms of life. This fact must have influenced Lovecraft’s description of Cthulhu and where he placed Him after arriving from the Outer Cosmos.

Every year a multitude of different creatures are discovered in large bodies of water, and occasionally a few are so unique scientists have to invent new names for them. For example, in 2005, a new crustacean was discovered in the Southeast Pacific whose physical appearance was so bizarre it could have easily turned up in one of Lovecraft’s stories. Found 7,500 feet below the surface by a diving team led by Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, the crustacean was living near toxic, deep sea, hydrothermal vents. The creature has the body of a crab or squat lobster, along with extra long pincers covered with sinuous hair-like strands, and is entirely white. It has been dubbed the “Yeti crab,” (Yeti – the shaggy humanoid also known as the Abominable Snowman, said to live in the Himalayas) but a new Latin family name had to be invented for its taxonomic classification: Kiwa hirsuta. The first part of the name comes from Polynesian mythology in which the goddess of crustaceans is known as Kiwa; and the second part from the word ‘hirsute,’ meaning covered with hair, due to the unusual fibers covering the length of its claws.

Could the Great Cthulhu have played a part in the creation of this new hairy lobster? Perhaps he was the one responsible for the blonde strands that cover the Yeti crab’s pincers? Lovecraft would have probably liked for us to believe so. It is said that he enjoyed attempting to make his fictional stories seem as factual as possible. (For many years I believed that the Necronomicon was a genuine historical document.)

But what is the exact function of the Yeti crab’s strange hair-like fibers? There are two theories. One is that the fibers contain a large amount of bacteria, which helps to detoxify the harmful chemicals that ooze out of the hydrothermal vents the animal flocks to. Another is that the crustacean feeds off the bacteria that is collected in the strands. But the Yeti crab does not restrict itself to bacteria alone. It has been seen fighting over shrimp, thus making it a carnivore. Scientists are curious to investigate the hair-like fibers further and determine the exact nature of every organism living there.

The newly discovered crustacean is also blind. That’s a characteristic shared by at least two major deities in Lovecraft’s mythos (Eidolon of the Blind, another name for The Dweller in the Gulf – a massive tortoise with no eyes that lives beneath the surface of Mars; and The Blind Idiot God, another name for Azathoth – one of the most powerful Outer Gods). The Yeti crab has only undeveloped membraneous tissue where its eyes should be. But because it lives at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, it is encased in darkness and does not need vision.

As you may have already guessed, when I read the article reporting the discovery of the Yeti crab, with its long pincers covered with thick white hair, and thin membranes where its eyes should be, and its collection of bacteria that destroys toxic chemicals pouring from hydrothermal vents, I was immediately reminded of the supernatural deities in Lovecraft’s mythos. And since I have long desired to add a deity of my own to that distinguished corpus, without delay I sat down and plotted out a story titled “God’s Blood,” in which elements of the Yeti crab would appear.

Allow me to digress for a moment and explain the plot of my story.

Every day a young girl travels over a bridge into town to perform errands for her mother. Upon reaching the end of the bridge, she feels an irresistible force compelling her to leap over the side. The force gets stronger each day until she eventually yields. She lands without injury and the force beckons her toward a cave she’d never noticed before. She enters and at the end finds herself transported to another planet with undulating red mountains, a seething orange sky, and seven purple suns. A colossal, blonde, crab-shaped creature, the length of a bus, with no eyes and fur-covered pincers trudges over the sand. His head is an ephemeral mesh of multidimensional polygons and his furry pincers snap with thousands of tiny metallic blades. The creature speaks to the girl in a warbling English saying his name is Zayv-O-Waith-9, and that he was created by the insane cult that worships Azazoth, which brought him into being through experiments with the Kabbalah and The Pnakotic Manuscripts.

Zayv-O-Waith-9 continues, saying he needs a human to join his body so he can continue his existence and complete a mathematical theorem that will prove the precise year in which the universe will end. If he succeeds in constructing a rigorous proof, he will use it to convince the Outer Gods to take action and prevent the End of the World from happening. The girl understands and begins to panic. Then she feels her forehead being branded, but sees no branding tool. The pain is tremendous and she screams and begins to lose consciousness. Zayv-O-Waith-9 tells her that without the ancient symbol she cannot join his body. The girl finds herself floating toward Zayv-O-Waith-9. When she gets closer, another human rises from the creature’s back encased in a thick column of flesh and white fibers, the same hair covering Zayv-O-Waith-9’s pincers. It is the human the girl will replace.

“The hair protects you from the influx of evil that exists inside of me and as a natural part of the universe,” Zayv-O-Waith-9 says. “Everyone on Earth will soon need the fibers. Without it they will perish.”

Another column rises from Zayv-O-Waith-9’s back. The girl floats to it and her legs begin to sink. She stares at the other human. Skeletal face, long gray hair, protruding yellow eyes. Decrepit. She knows when she is installed in the new column, the other one will vanish. She sinks deeper and  remembers the vial of liquid in her pocket, the bottle her grandmother had given her years before. (Deus ex machina, I know.) She called it, “God’s Blood” and the girl realized her grandmother knew of the dangers in the cave.

The girl throws the liquid over Zayv-O-Waith-9’s body. He releases a bellicose scream and begins to transform. Both columns withdraw and the girl is thrown to the sand. Zayv-O-Waith-9’s body is distorted greatly by the God’s Blood, and he develops deformed primitive wings and flies off into the orange sky with the mountains undulating behind him.

The girl wakes near the mouth of the cave, groggy and disoriented. She walks home wondering about the ramifications of changing Zayv-O-Waith-9 with the vial of God’s Blood, what effect it will have on the Universe. Raising a hand to her forehead, she feels the brand still there, the scarring thick and prominent, at least four inches across. She knows she’ll never be able to explain it to her mother. Never be able to remove the brand, which is an ancient symbol from the Necronomicon. 

I have not written the story yet. But that is the plot inspired by Kiwa Hirsuta and the Cthulhu mythos.

I firmly believe that Lovecraft was greatly influenced by the bizarre new life forms that our oceans and seas produce every year. And I feel that is at least partly the reason he placed the Great Cthulhu sleeping in a tomb in the Pacific. But let’s pretend the mythos and the deities in it are real for a moment. Perhaps so much new life is produced in large bodies of water because Cthulhu is in the Pacific creating it. Maybe his tomb has degenerated so much now that he is able to send his supernatural powers out through cracks to pervade the waters and cause mutation of the existing life. Or perhaps he is even able to leave his tomb occasionally to breed with the other creatures. But if so, why haven’t we seen him? Why has he not reclaimed his power? I don’t know. Nevertheless-    

 In His House at R’lyeh Dead Cthulhu waits dreaming,
 yet He shall rise and His kingdom shall cover the Earth.”
  – Abdul Alhazred, the Necronomicon