A good case in point is "Out of the Aeons," published in the April 1935 issue of Weird Tales under the byline of Hazel Heald, an amateur writer with whom Lovecraft collaborated on five stories. "Out of the Aeons" is presented in the form of a first person account "found among the effects of the late Richard H. Johnson, Ph.D., curator of the Cabot Museum of Archaeology, Boston, Mass." The account primarily concerns
a hellish mummy, the antique and terrible rumours vaguely linked with it, the morbid wave of interest and cult activities of 1932, and the frightful fate of the two intruders on December 1st of that yearOne has to admit that's a pretty good opening to a story! It's certainly lurid, much like the story that follows, but it does nicely set the scene and draw one in. Dr. Johnson explains that, in 1878, a freighter from New Zealand "sighted a new island unmarked on any chart and evidently of volcanic origin." A landing party under its captain discovered "prehistoric Cyclopean masonry" on the island, including a massive stone crypt. Inside the crypt, the party found the aforementioned mummy, on whose body was found a cylinder of unknown metal containing a scroll of similarly unknown material on which was written some kind of unrecognizable script.
The mummy was that of a medium-sized man of unknown race, and was cast in a peculiar crouching posture. The face, half shielded by claw-like hands, had its under jaw thrust far forward, while the shrivelled features bore an expression of fright so hideous that few spectators could view them unmoved. The eyes were closed, with lids clamped down tightly over eyeballs apparently bulging and prominent. Bits of hair and beard remained, and the colour of the whole was a sort of dull neutral grey. In texture the thing was half leathery and half stony, forming an insoluble enigma to those experts who sought to ascertain how it was embalmed. In places bits of its substance were eaten away by time and decay. Rags of some peculiar fabric, with suggestions of unknown designs, still clung to the object.The true nature of this mummy and how it came to be form the bulk of the story, as Dr. Johnson deals with a steady stream of strange characters coming to the Cabot Museum to inquire about it. These dealings lead Johnson to seek out forbidden books, such as Von Junzt's Nameless Cults, where he slowly pieces together disparate bits clues to attain what he thinks might be the truth -- a truth that is all but confirmed by the conclusion of the story.
Just what made it so infinitely horrible and repulsive one could hardly say. For one thing, there was a subtle, indefinable sense of limitless antiquity and utter alienage which affected one like a view from the brink of a monstrous abyss of unplumbed blackness—but mostly it was the expression of crazed fear on the puckered, prognathous, half-shielded face. Such a symbol of infinite, inhuman, cosmic fright could not help communicating the emotion to the beholder amidst a disquieting cloud of mystery and vain conjecture.
"Out of the Aeons" is not a good story. It's mostly exposition and much of its feels recycled if you're already deeply immersed in Yog-Sothothery. As he so often did in his revisions, Lovecraft borrowed heavily from his own prior stories, blending some of their details with the bare bones provided by his revision clients. The result is never great literature, but it is often enjoyable, as is the case with "Out of the Aeons." To this day, I will never forget the first time I read the story in high school and the strange feeling that came over me as I kept one step ahead of Dr. Johnson in figuring out the history of the "hellish mummy" in the Cabot Museum. And while that history is absurd, even laughable in some respects, there's nevertheless an element of genuine horror in it that has stuck with me all these years and continues to haunt my imagination.