Late last night, I woke from uneasy dreams of apocalypses with an idea sitting heavy in my head:
R’lyeh is an ancient waste storage site, and C’thul’hu is the waste itself.
The weird “architecture” of the place is just a bunch of nasty spiky stuff the Elder Race put on top of the buried waste, to mark it as a place to leave barren, ala the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. The seven-pointed Elder Sign? Their symbol for “radiation hazard”. Or for whatever kind of hazard can be found at Waste Storage Site RLYH, one of many such sites spread out across the galaxy wherever the Elder Race stopped.
Perhaps Cthulhu is just an abbreviation for something like the giant mass of corium known as “The Elephant’s Foot” that’s deep in the heart of the ruins of the Chernobyl reactor. Somewhere in the long chain of translations from the Elder Race’s writing to modern English, there was a language that required everything to have a gender, and thus a giant psycho-radiactive pile of KL5-LO got called “he” and had people trying to pronounce its chemical label as a word.
It is dead – it was always dead – but it still lays there, still has power, still can kill you with its invisible tentacles of radiation. Stay away; do not approach. “But in strange aeons even death may die” – its half-life is measured in billions of years, and eventually this remnant will be safe. Good luck, whatever creatures come after us.
I doubt I am the first one to have this idea.