The Octopus
Fictional Character
Shared Universe Story
Cthulhu Mythos Stories
Appearance: "Nine Drowned Churches"
Type of Appearance: Direct narrator
Relatives: Cthulhu (?)

When musician Alistair hired a boat to look at the nine drowned churches of Dunwich, England, the fisherman, Ralph Hoadley, discussed a previous incident when a group of divers explored the churches a few years prior. They'd laughed at the name Great Cthulhu. One of them, a woman, was killed when a large octopus pulled her face plate off. (Alistair knew of the ill-fated dive, but had not known the person killed was a woman, or the specific circumstances of her death.)[1]

Hoadley took Alistair to the right spot and then turned off the engine. Alistair began looking into the sea until he saw remains of churches.[2] Suddenly, the sound of church bell tolling came from beneath the water.[3] After an initial expression of shock, Hoadley calmly went to sleep, and despite numerous efforts, Alistair could not wake him up.[4] He returned his attention to the water. He saw, emerging from the doorway of a fairly intact church building, the largest octopus Alistair had ever seen or imagined. They stared at each other for a time. Alistair thought he saw a glint of sardonic wisdom in the octopus's eyes. Moreover, Alistair thought he saw a crown atop the octopus's head before it retreated back out of sight.[5] Alistair knew of the legend that three holy crowns were buried along the coast to ward off invasion, and that one of these crowns was supposed to be the one St. Felix of Burgundy placed upon the head of Sigebert of East Anglia.[6]

Once the octopus vanished, Hoadley abruptly woke up (he didn't appear to know he'd been asleep), and took Alistair back to the shore. Alistair never shared what he'd seen with anyone. He slipped a few hints into some of his songs, but ultimately, no one followed up on these hints, leaving only the octopus to tell the tale.

Literary Comment[]

Turtledove has confirmed that the octopus is the narrator of the story.

The story implies, but does not explicitly state, that the octopus is related to Cthulhu. It also implies that the octopus is somehow responsible for sweeping the town into the sea.


  1. That is Not Dead, loc 3580.
  2. Ibid., loc 3593-3606.
  3. Ibid., 3606.
  4. Ibid., loc 3606-3618.
  5. Ibid., 3618-3630.
  6. Ibid. 3484.