The unnamed narrator describes the final fate of his good friend, Denys Barry, an Irish-American who reclaims an ancestral estate in Kilderry, a fictional town in Ireland. Barry ignores pleas from the local peasantry not to drain the nearby bog, with unfortunate supernatural consequences.
The narrator, hearing tales of a "lurking fear" upon Tempest Mountain in the Catskills, takes two men with him to investigate. They camp inside the deserted Martense mansion as a lightning storm approaches, and feeling strangely drowsy, they all fall asleep. The narrator wakes up to find both his companions missing, and in a flash of lightning sees a demonic shadow cast upon the fireplace chimney from a grotesque monster like the other one.
The story focuses around the narrator and his friend St. John, who have a deranged interest in robbing graves. They constantly defile crypts and often keep souvenirs of their nocturnal expeditions. Since they reside in the same house, they have the opportunity to set up a sort of morbid museum in their basement. Using the objects they collect from the various graves they have robbed, they organize the private exhibition. The collection consists of headstones, preserved bodies, skulls and several heads in different phases of decomposition. It also included statues, frightful paintings and a locked portfolio, bound in tanned human skin.
Randolph Carter discovers, at the age of 30, that he has gradually "lost the key to the gate of dreams." As he ages, he finds that his daily waking exposure to the more "practical", scientific ideas of man, has eventually eroded his ability to dream as he once did, and has made him regretfully subscribe more and more to the mundane beliefs of everyday, waking "real life". But still not certain which is truer, he sets out to determine whether the waking ideas of man are superior to his dreams.
The story is told from the first person perspective of an unnamed narrator and details his experiences with a scientist named Crawford Tillinghast. Tillinghast creates an electronic device that emits a resonance wave, which stimulates an affected person’s pineal gland, thereby allowing them to perceive planes of existence outside the scope of accepted reality.
"Ex Oblivione" is a prose poem.It is written in first person and tells of the dreams of a presumably dying man. In his dreams, the man is walking through a valley and encounters a vine-covered wall with a locked bronze gate therein. He longs to know what lies beyond the gate.
The story begins by describing the ancestors of Sir Arthur Jermyn, a British nobleman. His great-great-great-grandfather, Sir Wade Jermyn, had been an early explorer of the Congo region, whose books on a mysterious white civilization there had been ridiculed. He had been confined to an asylum in 1765. Lovecraft describes how the Jermyn family has a peculiar physical appearance that began to appear in the children of Wade Jermyn and his mysterious and reclusive wife, who Wade claimed was Portuguese.