SPOILERS BELOW: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. (previously)
Hastur will sear your soul if you spill the beans! But you may want to send that same can of legumes to a friend and give them a good case of the heebie-jeebies by ordering the experience "The K*i*n*g in Yellow" from The Mysterious Package Company and ensnaring them without warning. Here's what will befall them.
The first arrival is a size of envelope not often seen. It is otherwise ordinary and addressed to me in a feminine hand.
Inside is found a smaller beat-up envelope which the post office had attempted but failed to deliver 15 years ago. It contains a letter from a desperate soul (now probably deceased) about the government censorship of a play and various artifacts. No longer able to keep these items safe, I am informed they are being sent to me. All of this in a most urgent tone, and water damage obscures the signature of the sender.
Accompanying the missive are three pages ripped from a script of the play, The K*i*n*g in Yellow. The language of the play is flowery and obtuse. It's oddly intriguing.
At this point, I didn't quite get that one is supposed to do something with this information (damn Asperger's—I'm always the last person to figure this stuff out).
These pages of the play, should you dare to read them, may cause a shiver if the lights are low, the hour is late, and you're in the mood:
You, sir, should unmask.
Indeed, it's time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
I wear no mask.
You know something creepy is in the offing, and it's not Rondo Hatton.
A few weeks later a larger envelope arrived containing a strange amulet bearing an arcane symbol, a letter-press printed broadside from the only known performance of the play The K*i*n*g in Yellow in London in the 19th century, and a newspaper clipping from a curious journalist. He should have stopped before it was too late, but alas.
Some weeks later, a wooden crate arrives. Soundly nailed shut, it takes considerable effort to open and yields more newspaper clippings from the unfortunate journalist, now confined to an insane asylum for seeing the unseeable and writing what is forbidden. A postcard and photo accompany; one appears to bear relevance, the other doesn't.
And then there's that enormous and heavy statue of the Stranger who wears no mask.
It's a story told in real bits of paper, wood, metal, twine, and statuary. A tactile tale of insanity. But what is it all about? You get only clues and cool stuff from the adventure, but you must find the meaning—which enhances the "experience"—on your own, for in reality it's a puzzle which points you in a direction you will feel compelled to follow.
Who, then, is the K*i*n*g in Yellow? It's not so simple. Ostensibly The K*i*n*g in Yellow is a play in book form that is guaranteed to drive anyone who reads it bonkers. It exists only as a series of stories in the book of the same title written by Robert Chambers and published in 1895. He wrote nothing else of note other than this collection, which greatly inspired H.P. Lovecraft.
To make your experience of "The K*i*n*g in Yellow" from The Mysterious Package Company whole, you must read the book. Alone. At night. And allow the feeling of dread to settle over you until you are completely enveloped.
I took a different approach. On a flight to Tokyo, a great part of which takes place when people who are sleeping in the dark surround you, and your body is cocooned beneath a blanket with only a small light for illumination, I experienced an excellent graphic novel of The K*i*n*g in Yellow by the UK's I.N.J. Culbard.
No stranger to visualizing tales of dread and horror with several graphic adaptations of Lovecraft to his credit, Culbard interprets Chamber's prose in a chilling manner while maintaining the morbid feeling of awful underlying terror … especially for those who come face to face with the King himself. The tattered Stranger who wears no mask.
Tomorrow we'll dissect the inscrutable bifurcation of the fans of The Mysterious Package Company.
(If you're wondering why certain words appear written in an odd manner with asterisks between the letters throughout this and the previous piece, it's to prevent unsuspecting recipients of these experiences from successfully finding this article through Google and ruining the surprise for themselves, as well as the person who sent it to them. This has become an increasing problem because those recipients with good "Google Fu" often search the web when the first mailing appears and the experience is thereafter not all it should be. As a member of the MPC, I'm trying to balance writing about the experiences without spoiling them for future recipients.)