Today’s entry is The Transition of Juan Romero which was written in 1919. It was never published in Lovecraft’s lifetime as he apparently was unhappy with the story.

Of the events which took place at the Norton Mine on October 18th and 19th, 1894, I have no desire to speak… But I believe that before I die I should tell what I know of the – shall I say transition – of Juan Romero.

The unnamed narrator speaks of having served at one time in India and of having “delved not a little into odd Eastern lore” in his past. He eventually wound up in the American West, employed as a laborer at a gold mine. While there, he made the acquaintance of Juan Romero who became fascinated with the narrator’s “quaint and ancient Hindoo ring,” which was adorned with hieroglyphs. Their friendship was only hampered by the language barrier between them.

The mine was expanded by the detonation of dynamite which revealed that “a new abyss yawned indefinitely below the seat of the blast; an abyss so monstrous that no handy line might fathom it, nor any lame illuminate it.” This scared some of the workmen who refused to enter the chasm so no work was completed that evening. Late that night Romero awakened, agitated, and telling the narrator about the sound he was hearing. The narrator gradually began to hear it as well.

Deep, deep, below me was a sound – a rhythm, just as the peon had said – which, though exceedingly faint, yet dominated even the dog, the coyote, and the increasing tempest. To seek to describe it were useless – for it was such that no description is possible… Of all its qualities, remoteness in the earth most impressed me.

The narrator and Romero then begin involuntarily moving toward the mine, drawn by the sound. As they go deeper in the mine, the narrator’s ring begins to glow and lights his way. Romero runs ahead and gets swallowed up by the abyss. The narrator looks over the edge.

At first I beheld nothing but a seething blur of luminosity; but then shapes all infinitely distant, began to detach themselves from the confusion, and I saw – was it Juan Romero? – but God! I dare not tell you what I saw!… Some power from heaven, coming to my aid, obliterated both sights and sounds in such a crash as may be heard when two universes collide in space. Chaos supervened, and I knew the peace of oblivion.

The narrator awakens in his bunk, safe and sound. Juan Romero lies next to him on a table, apparently having died while he slept. Neither man had been observed leaving the cabin during the night. The storm caused the mine to cave in, closing the abyss. And the narrator’s “Hindoo ring” was missing. The end.

It is definitely not one of Lovecraft’s top-tier stories and I can understand why he shelved it. What would have made it more interesting is having the narrator actually describe something… you know… relevant. He starts the story by saying he has no desire to speak. He then spends the entire story relating details which aren’t all that important to the story. Then when he gets to the pit and looks down he sees something. What is it? What does it mean. I dare not tell you what I saw! Take that! Whatever it was, it is important enough to relate the tale before he dies but not important enough to actually describe in any sort of meaningful detail.

Lovecraft’s teasing aside, it does contain seeds of other themes which he later develops in detail. Juan Romero is not a particularly scary story and might have been better off left on the shelf.