• Short Fiction

Summit of the Ancient Ones - Finnegan Deacon

Excerpts from the journal of John C. McAdam.

Monday, June 30th, 1947, 8.30 am.

Ben Ifrinn. A mountain steeped in so much lore that the very existence of this summit has been doubted by many. Yet here I am, as witness to this natural monolith, in awe of the dark silhouette the mount cuts against the horizon.

In preparation for this expedition, I was able to uncover little written testimony save for a few scraps of disputed parchment stored in the archives of the Royal Geographical Society. My presence here owes much to my work gathering oral accounts from reluctant locals on the nearby mainland. For over a year I have argued my case for the existence of this peak - a position which has attracted ridicule from several members of the scientific community - and now before me lies justification of my fervent belief.

I was able to secure passage with a local fisherman over to the desolate island known by the locals as the Old Lands. The island itself does not appear on any map, yet from the mainland on a clear day, the rugged outline of the isle can be observed from the coast. Due to superstition, many of the locals refused to ferry me to the island and it took much convincing plus a tidy sum of money to eventually persuade the man who would convey me across.

When I had disembarked from the small vessel, the seaman wasted no time in hasting his return to the mainland. Were it not for the fact that the handsome fee agreed would only be paid on my collection in three days’ time, I would have believed that he had intended to abandon me indefinitely. The terror that permeates the folklore of this place appears to have played a significant role in the reclusive nature of this mysterious insular, a viewpoint I wish to change with this expedition.

The journey to the foot of the mountain was a hardy one over rugged and unwelcoming terrain. I cannot pretend that my first sighting of the mountain was one of equal parts joy and terror, for Ben Ifrinn is indeed an imposing sight.

The final inventory of equipment has been completed before I commence my ascent. I have enough rations to last the duration of my stay on the island and I believe myself to be stocked for any such conditions that I may encounter. I estimate the journey will take around 6 hours to reach the summit, the sky is clear and I do not anticipate adverse weather. After many months of research, I am finally about to discover the secrets of Ben Ifrinn.

Monday, 30th June 1947, 12.13 pm.

I have stopped to rest on my ascent. With no path to follow I have had to traverse my own trail through the dense thicket. Although at times tough, the going was far easier than expected with the ground firm and smooth underfoot. Luck would have it that I stumbled upon what appeared to be a pathway of exposed rock, meandering up the mountain. Whether others have travelled this path at some point in history is too early to say, but I don’t believe it would be too bold to say that the route does not appear to be one etched out by nature. At what I believe to be halfway, the trail turned sharply skywards and at times required a great deal of concentration and effort to successfully negotiate. The task became more of a challenge and the burn of exertion has started to set into my lower extremities. With the path ahead being of unknown quantities, I have decided it best to pace my progress.

The clear skies have started to become shadowy, although I do not expect the conditions to inflict significant delay on my passage.

Monday 30th June 1947, 8.46 pm.


First, I must explain the remainder of the journey to the summit of Ben Ifrinn. The latter part of the trip proved more strenuous than as I have described in my last entry. With the top in sight, the mountain took on a strange effect I am at odds to explain, for the more I walked, the further from the top I appeared to be. This was no perception of a false summit, but an entirely different phenomenon I struggle to find an explanation for. The journey started to seem impossibly endless and I began to doubt my ability to reach the summit, but my perseverance endured. I was determined not to fail.

There were occasions during the ascent that I feared for my life. A jagged precipice took several hours to navigate, the task being made more precarious by an unexpected change in weather conditions. The sky darkened without warning and a harsh mist descended on the mountain, curtailing the speed at which I could safely climb.

Despite this setback, I reached the summit only a few hours behind schedule. I am almost speechless to describe the sight. A wide, misty plateau exposed to the terrible wind and the sky obscured by thick cloud. I would have believed myself to be in a foreign world had I not climbed here myself. I decided it best to set a base camp before I dared to venture any further and found a shallow recess that offered protection from the terrible wind.

I took great care to ensure the tent was secure before venturing out into the fog. What I discovered was far from what I expected. My hands still shake as I write these words

Not far from camp, I was astonished to discover evidence of human activity. Semi-hidden by a mound of gravel was a small clay pot, dotted with dark stains. It was well preserved save for a chip on the rim. I carefully removed the grit and lifted the pot for further inspection. I excavated the dirt from inside and found what appeared to be a rudimentary flint knife. On closer inspection, the pot had been surrounded by a circle of stones, indicating that it had not been left by chance but design. One of the stones in the circle turned out to be another interesting artifact. A small carving fashioned from some beautiful green mineral glinted in amongst the dark pebbles of the circle. I speculate that it is a necklace or talisman. The carving was of a grotesque and disfigured face. I may have explained the unusual appearance as a result of weathering, but my next discovery made me rethink such an assumption.

At first, due in part to the diminishing light and heavy mist, I dismissed the feature in the distance as a natural rock formation. As I drew closer, I was able to attest to the unusual structure. I can still barely believe the discovery. Three standing stones, each at least four metres tall and made from a dark basalt. On inspection of surrounding rock formations, it was clear that the standing stones had not originated from the mountain itself.

A series of elaborate carvings decorated the dark, hulking objects. I believed the artwork to be of Pictish origin until closer inspection convinced me otherwise. Although the weather had faded them considerably, the markings on the stone were unlike anything I have ever seen before. I estimate that the stones must be at least one thousand years old, possibly more. Many of the symbols meant nothing to me, but the larger of the three stones were carved with the face resembling that of the pendant I had found.

To see this face hewn into solid rock brought out the truly macabre nature of the image. So vivid was the carving that it sends a shiver down my spine just writing about it. Below the ghastly depiction were faint carvings of small, man-like figures, their arms raised in worship, fear or both. This finding is more than I could have hoped for on this expedition and I am now starting to believe that the people on the mainland may have some reason for their superstitions about this place.

I spent much time studying the stones, only returning to camp when the daylight began to fade. My muscles ache and I can feel the draw of sleep beginning to overcome me. Tomorrow I shall return to the site and study the structure in greater detail. I believe there are more secrets to be uncovered on this wonderous mountain.

Tuesday 1st July 1947, 2.07 am.

Sleep has not come easy. Relentless wind rushes my tent. The noise is almost unbearable, exhaustion eats away at my spirit and I feel a deep sense of unease. I have no rational explanation as to why. The face on the pendant and standing stone haunts what little sleep I have been able to achieve.

I was roused from my unsettled dreams by the tumultuous sound of thunder; sickly like the crackle of electricity heard from underwater. As I sit in my tent now, I see faint flashes of strange light outside, dancing on the canvas of my tent like the aurora borealis.

I dare not step outside to investigate further.

Tuesday 1st July 1947. (Time illegible).

Whispers. The whispers of giants.

I hear them draw close. The sound fills my head. Madness resides on this mountain.

The gateway to Hell opens on Earth. They whisper to me.

They see my dreams.

Skressader they whisper.

The old ones. This is their mountain.


They come. Madness comes.

Audio transcript received from Audrey Jannis, expedition leader to Ben Ifrinn, Thursday 10th May 2018.

We reached the summit just over an hour ago. Ben (Kovachev, Cartographer) has traveled ahead to begin mapping the area while Steven (Freeman, Geologist) and I finished an inventory of equipment found at the location of John's tent. I am surprised at how much has survived after over seventy years up here. The tent is a little weather-worn but free of tears and the items we found inside were in surprisingly good condition.

John’s rucksack had been left behind in the tent. As far as we can tell, there appears to have been no items removed. Rations tins remain untouched and all climbing equipment and spare clothing have been left inside. We discovered the clay pot and flint knife mentioned in John's journal alongside pencil sketches of the standing stones, yet there is no sign of the pendant that he described. The discovery of the journal has been an exciting find. The early entries match with our own experience of the ascent, although the last entry does nothing but add further mystery to what happened here. There is no physical indication that we have found so far that would indicate the fate of John McAdams

We have also briefly surveyed the area with the standing stones. Steven believes that it may have been some sort of Pagan site although it is too early to tell at this time. I can see why John was so enthralled by the stones. There is something fascinating and morbid about them. One difference we have found is the face that John describes on the largest stone. Several of his sketches draw the face in detail, but on inspecting the stone, the face appears to have weathered away. No other details appear to have faded. One explanation is that John may have been suffering from some sort of mental breakdown when he attempted his expedition and the face was a resultant hallucination. Hopefully, we can find out...

What was that? Did you see that? It was like a flash of green light. Radio ahead to Ben, make sure everything is…

(Thunder and indistinct voice, possibly SF)

Oh my God! Steven run...


End of transcript.

Finnegan Deacon is a writer trapped inside a Lovecraftian nightmare. His words can be found in places most people would not dare tread. There are some who believe he does not exist. Those people are currently being dealt with.