Norman Nergal had a rusty trombone. No, not the mythical sexual act; his actual instrument was rusty. Neither do I use the word “instrument” as a euphemism for any particular body part: the brass of his aerophone had oxidized and become corroded. Nor is the previous sentence an inoffensive reference to a thing scatological. All the previous language has been heretofore literal. You see, Norman played in the brass marching band – not particularly well, mind you – of Arkham Community College. Well, of course he was not a virtuoso. The teachers were not virtuosos. The rest of the band made the rankest of amateurs look like virtuosos. This was, after all, the most junior of the junior colleges. It was overshadowed in every way by the local Ivy-League school Miskatonic University, a prestigious learning establishment that had sent Norman enough rejection letters to paper his dormitory. Of course he was broke, and of course his equipment was secondhand, and of course his trombone was rusty.
As he sat alone in his dorm room, dimly lit by the flickering light of a solitary secondhand lamp, he attempted to file the ruined metal away from the mouthpiece of his instrument. His cat, Racial P. McSlurrington, sidled up to him and rubbed up against his leg affectionately. Oh, what a calamitous event it had been attempting to convince his fellow students to allow Racial into the dorm! They had been set against him, and only the feline’s fabled cuteness had convinced them. Of course ACC had stringent rules prohibiting the bringing of pets onto college property. This rule, however, was treated the same way as most other things at ACC; with unadulterated apathy. To that end: Racial P. McSlurrington was now sitting in Norman’s lap. He affectionately stroked the cat, then went back to the act of cleaning his weathered trombone.
It was at this time, from parts unknown in the distant darkness of the dormitory common room, there came a cacophonous clanking of unfamiliar objects. Both Messrs Nergal and McSlurrington were startled from their heretofore comfortable perches, with Racial in particular racing off into the blackness of an unlit room. As Norman rose, he recalled from his local news the recent happenings at Miskatonic University, and the infamous reading of the Necronomicon of the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. Of course, that was Miskatonic, and this was ACC, and the only dreadful tome they had perused of late was the far lower-rent Czechronomicon of the Rankled Czechoslovakian Vaclav Mazeltov. Nevertheless Norman shivered as he crept over to the palpable nothingness in the hall.
Deep within the blackness, there came a hissing sound. Norman leaped back with a fearful yell, only to discover that it was merely Racial, bolting about the dormitory floor, with his little claws scrabbling about the wooden floor. Norman breathed a sigh of relief, then decided to seek a small amount of cannabis to assuage his anxiety – this was junior college – and he fumbled for a lightswitch. Finding one, he brought more illumination to the darkened dorm, discovering the kitchen in the new brightness. He looked about for the proper drawer, which his roommates had helpfully labeled Cannabis Drawer. Finding the drawer, he proceeded to open it. He found himself irked by the grim reality that the drawer – the Cannabis Drawer – was found to be emptier than man’s meaning itself. Nothing but a few stems and a seed or two lay in the drawer, and at that moment, Norman’s maltheistic rage at all of creation was as a thing living. As he roared into the unhallowed night, he heard his dark prayer receive an equally profane answer. From the further blackness of the Pit, some unknowable, unknowing creature was calling back to him.
Norman recalled a few tenets from the Czechronomicon – chief among them that a lack of cannabis was the warning sign for the otherworldly beast known as Culus-Usiris-Non-Thoth-Siris, whose cult had purportedly existed since ancient times and was generally staffed by those rejected from the cult of dread Cthulhu. The creature was beyond human reasoning, and its very appearance was reputed to drive even the steeliest men to a state of uncomfortable monomania. Norman Nergal now had reason to believe this being was in his dorm, stealing his cannabis.
The records of one Norman Nergal at Arkham Community College here vanish. To be sure, each student that attends those fearful halls has their own theory on the events that occurred. All that is known for certain is that, upon the return of his roommates from their weekend debauchery, they found no cannabis and a hungry Racial P. McSlurrington stalking the dorm room halls. They resumed their tenancy for a brief time, never certain what had happened to Norman. Yet, on some nights, when the alien darkness was at its cruelest, there came from the lonely blackness unharmonious chords of brass, as of a broken man trumpeting his rusty trombone, hoping some inexpressibly dark god might hear it. To this day, the Cannabis Drawer will not retain cannabis, but the acrid stench of same can still be caught on those unsanctified nights. On some nights, when the moon is brightest, some claimed to have seen a phantom streaker, dashing about the campus, reeking of cannabis and clutching a rusty trombone. Such was the fate of Norman Nergal.