When I was eleven or twelve, I wandered into a Walden Books and picked up a copy of The Necronomicon, a book ostensibly written by the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, a character from the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The Necronomicon purported to contain instructions on opening a gateway to other dimensions, other worlds populated by the Elder Gods, Old Ones with names like Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth who, if begged with the proper humility and terror, might deign to show up suddenly and eat us all.
Naturally, I began making the necessary preparations immediately.
Unfortunately, the instructions were somewhat vague, consisting in large part of lines like, “I have smelled the vapors of that Ancient One, Queen of the Outside, whose name is writ in the terrible MAGAN text, the testament of some dead civilization whose priests, seeking power, swing open the dread, evil Gate for an hour past the time, and were consumed.” This was very exciting to me–minus the confusing shift in tense, of course–but somewhat lacking in specifics. Was the “cruel gibbering” that needed to “pour forth like vomitous bile from my mouth” supposed to be in English? If not, could I do it in grammatically correct but unidiomatic French, or did it have to be Arabic? Or something else? I was happy to put forth the effort to study any language necessary, but the opportunities, in South Carolina in 1985, were doubtless few and far between.
In the end my efforts were stymied by my inability to gather the appropriate materials. Coal was no problem; neither was a stick of yew wood two cubits long and as big around as my thumb. But when I actually sat down with the newspaper and looked at the price of gold, I realized that buying enough to beat out a thin sheet as big as my palm would take months and months of my allowance, and that was money I simply had to have to buy stickers for my sticker books.