The ‘70s are far enough back in history that we don’t have as many recordings. Media can get lost. It’s not unfeasible for a niche horror comic to rise to enough prominence to sustain a brief but impactful run and then fade into the annals of history.
But there are a lot of stereotypes of what media looked like back then. The consensus for Unspeakably Scary Things is that it’s an old, crinkly, yellowed thing, like an old superhero comic.
But, as I exited the thrift shop, after successfully hiding my reactions enough for Lenny not to know that what I held in my hands was worth far, far more than the twenty dollars I’d given him, the comic didn’t look like that.
The real Unspeakably Scary Things Issue #13 was like the picture online had shown. A glossy, thin thing with a tentacle monster on the front. It was embossed and beautifully made—the staples weren’t even rusty. The letters at the top were in a bold, sharp font. It looked like they would slice open your fingers if you touched them. Off to the right side of the picture, each vertically descending, were the names of the contributors. And like I’d been told many times in so many “lore videos,” I didn’t recognize a single name of any of the illustrators, editors, or writers on the list.
Of course, it occurred to me it might be a fake. But something about holding it made me feel like it had to be the real thing. Unspeakably Scary Things had an essence about it, like the surface had static electricity, its pages charged with some alien, inhuman force. It claimed itself as special, demanded I believe in it. Perhaps it was even one of a kind. The last copy in the world.
I was so enraptured that I walked into a low-hanging branch. It caught me right in the face, and I got a mouthful of bark. After spitting out little flakes that had stuck to my tongue, I decided it was probably best not to open the comic anymore—or even look at the cover—until I was inside my apartment. A faint sense of paranoia even grew in me. This wasn’t just some magazine, some collectible—this was a hallowed object. Anyone might want it for themselves. Someone could snatch it from my hands.
I glanced around in alarm, then tucked it under my shirt. I walked as quickly as I could without being suspicious to my apartment. Suddenly, I was so glad no one was free to hang out. Despite not wanting to lose it, I didn’t know how long I could go without telling someone. There was having a casual secret, and then there was owning a copy of Unspeakably Scary Things.
The thing was, once I got home, I discovered that the magazine itself wasn’t the most interesting thing about it. There was much more to this strange find, this odd happening, this chance luck, than a lost magazine with some spooky stories.
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