Let me introduce myself. I, Charles Stross, formerly of England, was once but a humble scholar and seeker after knowledge, like many of you who read this testimony. From earliest childhood I have been a dreamer and a visionary. Weighed down by febrile and unhealthy imaginings, I have constantly prodded and pried at the unwelcoming closed doors of a certain ancient wisdom: like any other victim of the hallucinogenic ur-reality of Mr Howard Philips Lovecraft, I was drawn like a moth to the flame of a ghastly demise that wore the welcoming visage of glad enlightenment.
Seven years ago, my commercial perambulations bought me into proximity to a fount of Hidden Knowledge. For, having succinctly concluded that my initial choice of trade was not to my taste, I had the wherewithall to subject myself to the rigours of a further sampling of the delights of academe, in this instance in the Department of Babbage Engineering that puffed its oil-spumed soot across the hallowed groves of Bradford University. For an entire year I studied mightily and invoked the evil (but in retrospect, compliant and biddable) demon spawn of Wirth to labour at my command. I even studied furtively from the dark and guarded book of Kernighan and Ritchie, and came to a tentative accomodation with the vast, squamous, and ancient nightmare to which the departmental administrators made sinister sacrifice in the machine room: I dared to speak the dread name 'Unix' in the midnight hour.
I was a pasty-faced youth of ill complexion, much given to reading of forbidden codices and manuals by candlelight on stormy nights; and I conducted my researches for supressed knowledge in the dark and dismal labrynth beneath the Joseph Priestley Library. Many volumes did I pore over, and many covert mailing lists did I come across; until one day I heard mentioned the dread name of that most outrageous of sinister evils.
At this point I was barely cognizant of the terrible doom that I faced, of the mortal peril in which I placed my soul: for there are those mindless horrors that twitter and weeble in the eternal void where lurks dread Yog-Sothoth, and there are the hideous ancients who even now wander the icy battlements of Leng beneath constellations unknown to man; but these are as nothing compared to the mind-destroying horror that is known even to men of courage only by its terrible symbol: the Camel. I have never been one to shrink from the pursuit of that wisdom which fools and visionless knaves write off as unspeakable blasphemy. Working by the light of a candle made with the tallow of a hanged man, I contrived to copy the dread book of incantations that was used in those days to summon the beast with one hump and no 'a'; and, had I but the time from my binding to service of the spawn of Wirth, I would have perhaps attempted a preliminary invocation. But it was not to be, for the exigencies of income took me in their grasp and it became necessary for me to depart from my academic lair, to seek my living wherever it might be in the mortal, daylit world.
But years later, my terrible sins returned to haunt me.
After some time, I came to work for a shadowy Operation dedicated to binding to their service and profit that most notorious of hellish spawn of the old ones, the demon named UNIX.
The binding to service of UNIX was in its own right a vast and perilous enterprise, for although it was notoriously stupid this demon was prolific and febrile; no sooner had an entire team of sorcerers battened down one writhing squamous mass of tentacles beneath the dread sigils of XPG/4 than another cluster of eye stalks, palps, vibrissae, and other, less nameable organs would emerge into the light, pumping and pulsing with hideous energy. It took the combined efforts of a team of hundreds of magi over four years to enchain the brute to the point at which it could be entrusted with the simplest of tasks - and then they mass- marketed it as a palliative for halitosis and housework. But I digress! For, buried deep in the heart of this runic enterprise, I discovered once more the key to my fate: a circle of necromancers, working in secret within the operation, had opened a portal to one of the nameless planes and allowed certain terrible ancient truths to insinuate themselves into their brains. And one of the truths was ... the key to the camel with no 'a'.
I tried to look away, but the forbidden knowledge already had me in its terrible febrile grasp. Attempts to use the presence of lesser entities to deter it failed; the beast with one hump and no 'a' spat, and the flightless bird lost its plumage. Even the most powerful of mystical sigils, the arcane language in which the sorcerers Brian, Ken, and Dennis first invoked UNIX, failed to deter the camel. It stared at me with an icy vision full of promises and strange, unapproachable knowledge: and I succumbed.
Three years have passed since that point, when the camel taught me its secret language and enslaved my heart. I have committed atrocities and abominations since then. I have consorted with daemons and enjoined servers to do my bidding. I have woven a dense web of nightmares in which to entrap my victims and suck them dry of all motivation to resist. I have sacrificed babies on a blasted windswept heath by the light of a gibbous moon in order to acquire for my self-aggrandizement yet more knowledge of the evil that sounds like unto the name of an oyster's treasure. And yet ... I have always had the sense that I was being played with, kept on the outside of that mystical circle of knowledge, and that some deeper, sanity-challenging insight yet eluded me.
Finally, a month ago, I discovered the true fount of insight into the nature of the beast. A book is available, to those who know who and what to ask for. Kept in the deepest dungeon of a library's stacks, its cover sealed with bronze clasps and its spine earthed by a silver chain, the book of the camel contains all the forbidden knowledge any evil necromancer could desire. There, laid out for my delectation was all the truth that my bleeding forehead could contain. Bleeding, for upon reading the book I was driven to pound my head upon the stone cobblestones of the oubliette to which the librarian had driven me. For I now realize that I have no hope of salvation; that my soul is eternally doomed to torment, and that the evil that gibbers and howls in the void beyond space will have me in the end. For I discovered secret clauses buried in the text of the book; and there was much howling and grinding of teeth as I realised what my earlier incantations had achieved. The camel has a mind of its own, a subtle and demented psychosis as old as time and twice as huge: it is eating my brain with a tea-spoon, and I feel quite sick. I have become the vector for a plague out of spacetime, a language with embedded magic and probabilistic parsers, a language that is eating my soul! Even the scholars of the local university would be hard-pressed to conduct a successful exorcism. For I have been polluted; the nemesis of orthogonality, the beast of UNIX, has laid its claws in my heart.
I cannot control myself any more. Soon I shall be entirely its creature, and then I shall be forced to write down the forbidden knowledge I have received - to write it down and publish it in an innocuous-looking volume, presented to the general reader so that they might suffer and wilt in its hideous grasp.
But first I warn you! Flee while you can! Flee before the approach of the dread beast with one hump and no 'a' in its name, flee before it eats your mind as it has
Oh, that's better. I feel all right now. Don't worry, everything is under control.
There is no cause for alarm.
I repeat: there is no cause for alarm.