Numbers of the bEast

Numbers of the bEast, or, The Secret Sign
(for Joe Pulver)

It begins with an exclamation point. Remember that, if you remember nothing else. Believe that, if you believe nothing else.

You’ve seen pictures of Joe Pulver. There’s proof he exists. But I don’t think we know the whole story. I still don’t, but I know more than I wish I did.

I knew Joe online, and we chatted via Skype a few times before I met him in person last summer in Rhode Island at NecronomiCon Providence. The convention was wonderful and meeting Joe was fantastic. At least, that is, until the last day when we stepped outside to have a cigarette.

I should’ve known something was wrong because the air was different. It smelled of char and sulfur. And then we were no longer on the pavement in front of the Biltmore Hotel. We were standing by a foul-smelling lake in the shadow of a thousand crumbling buildings and Joe wasn’t exactly Joe anymore.

He took my arm and his hand was no longer a hand, but a claw-tipped appendage with too many joints. This Joe had a carrion grin and black eyes that stripped the words from my tongue and whirlpooled my thoughts.

He whispered something, but it wasn’t a word. It was an exclamation point. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do. I can’t even begin to describe it, but I heard it with my ears and my head.

Then he let go of my arm and like that, we were both once again in front of the Biltmore. I searched his face for an explanation, for anything at all, but there was nothing. Only his laughing eyes and his genuine smile.

I shrugged everything off. It was the last day of the convention. There was alcohol the night before. It was hot and humid. All perfectly logical explanations.

Later though, once back home, I could not get the images of the lake, the buildings, the Joe, out of my head. I knew in my gut that it wasn’t the Joe I, or anyone else, knew. I don’t even know if he knew.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t tell anyone. I couldn’t. I may write about the strange and mysterious, but they’re just stories. Mental make-believe.

So I let it go. I had to, to keep my sanity. I wanted to believe that, whatever it was, it was over. And for a while, it was. But in the last few weeks, everything’s changed.

Here’s what I know: I wake with aching arms and cramped fingers. Ink stains and callouses. Yet there’s no evidence of what I’ve written.

Or there wasn’t until today. I found a scrap of paper on my desk with indecipherable writing, but in my handwriting, and at the end, a string of exclamation points. A prayer? An incantation? A warning?

I don’t know. I don’t want to know. But I know that I’m afraid. I feel the words being pulled, no, being ripped, out of me, even as I type this. I think it’s too late for me, but if you’re reading this, maybe it isn’t too late for you.

It starts with an exclamation point. Where it ends, I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t an ending at all. Maybe there’s only the mark, the sign, the—



For an explanation and more tributes to Joe Pulver, please read Mike Griffin’s post – The New Math.


2 thoughts on “Numbers of the bEast

  1. these xoxoxoxoxoxox followed by an unending sting of these!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ~~ ~

Comments are closed.