The Coiled Serpent, High Priest of the Brotherhood of Grool, adjusted his hood and stepped into the flickering candlelight. ‘The rumours are true. ‘ His voice was deep and foreboding.
The Squatting Aardvark, who didn’t have an official title but essentially amounted to middle management, scratched himself. ‘About Kim Kardashian and the armchair? I knew it!’ His voice wasn’t deep or foreboding.
‘What? No!’ said the Coiled Serpent irritably. ‘The rumours about The Key of Tormanku. It has been found.’
‘So the Kim Kardashian thing isn’t true?’ said the Squatting Aardvark.
‘How would I know?’
‘You said the Key rumour was true.’
‘More than one rumour can be true.’
‘So the Kim Kardashian thing is true!’
‘What sort of logic is that? All we know is that The Key of Tormanku has been found. That has no bearing on the truth of your thing one way or another.’
‘Unless Kim Kardashian found the Key while she was moving the coffee table.’
The Coiled Serpent fought the urge to use his ceremonial sceptre to cause unceremonial blunt force trauma. ‘Gary, I really think you’re focussing on the wrong thing here.’
‘Well excuse me for having a life outside the cult,’ said the Squatting Aardvark, also known as Gary.
‘We’ve been through this. We’re not a cult.’
‘We’re standing in the middle of a blood pentagram, dressed in spooky robes, talking about a magic key that opens the gateway to Hell.’
‘The service entrance to Hell,’ said the Coiled Serpent. ‘And it’s not Hell. It’s the psychic dimension from which every culture and religion glimpsed their version of Hell, though each version is but a squinting glance, and even added together they would barely hint at the true horrors we will unleash.’
‘Whatever,’ said the Squatting Aardvark. ‘Plus we’re not allowed to speak to our friends and family unless they’re one of us, which is one of the key indicators of a cult, as well as why I need celebrity gossip.’
‘But the Key has been found!’ The Coiled Serpent thumped his sceptre against the floor for emphasis. ‘That means it’s all true. It can’t be a cult if it’s true.’
‘I don’t think that’s how it works.’
‘What, so Christianity is a religion, even though the existence of the Key disproves the whole Bible, but we’re a cult?’
‘Toast exists, that doesn’t make toast a religion,’ said the Squatting Aardvark.
‘What does that mean?!’
‘Religion isn’t about what is or isn’t true, it’s about faith, ritual and community. None of us joined your cult to find a key or make nightmares real, we joined because we felt alienated and alone, we joined for the sense of purpose and belonging. Except for Andy, he joined because it was raining outside and his umbrella was broken.’
‘Nearly dry!’ said Andy.
‘To be honest,’ continued the Squatting Aardvark, ‘we’d all rather the Key hadn’t been found.’
The Coiled Serpent blinked in confusion. ‘What?’
‘Well, I mean, let’s be honest, what’s going to happen after we unlock that psychedelic nightmare portal? Without a shared goal to unite us we’re all going to drift apart and end up back in our lost, unfulfilling lives. No more poker nights. No more Sunday roasts.’
‘But terror will be made flesh! The skies will crawl with things Lovecraft himself would have hesitated to describe!’
‘Yeah, I never understood why you wanted that.’
The Coiled Serpent considered. ‘I suppose I just want to feel important. I mean, I’ve always felt important, but nobody else ever seems to notice. After the fifth missed promotion a bloke just wants to unleash horrors unimaginable upon the world. So that people will be impressed.’
‘Well we’re all impressed already,’ said the Squatting Aardvark. ‘Look what you’ve done. You created a cult, you gave us all a place we belong, you let Andy come in out of the rain. You don’t need to replace breathing with spiritual torment to impress us.’
The Coiled Serpent wiped away a tear. ‘But if we don’t go and get the Key, what are we going to do?’
The Squatting Aardvark patted him on the shoulder. ‘Tyrone’s cat is sick again, let’s have a bake sale to raise some money for the vet bills.’