Tag Archives: lovecraft

Low Tide

I’m always happy to use the words eldritch and horror in the same sentence. The stone the tide unearthed showed carvings of creatures: which creatures I wasn’t sure, but they possessed a heaping helping of tentacles, wings, eyes, and talons.

That explained a lot. The mysterious disappearances from the beach, the green lights hovering over the moonless bay, the shrieking of ghastly voices on windless nights.

This was perfect.

There is a demographic who would risk madness and death to glimpse anything described as eldritch horror.

I started the R’yleh Diving Club and waited for the freaks to pour in.

 

 

 

The nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh…was built in measureless eons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.

— H. P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu” (1928)

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My Life’s Dream

dreams

(This is true.)

Not to sound too much like Donald Trump, but I have the best dreams. They’re fantastic, really. No one has dreams like me. Absolutely no one. Sad, really.

The problem is, I can rarely remember them when I wake up. I wake up knowing that I just had a fantastic dream, no idea what it was about.

However, there is one dream that I have had over and over again. For decades. It is one of the defining features of my life, although almost no one knows about it. Until now, of course. You are really privileged, dear reader. I just hope you realize that.

It’s more of a location than a specific dream, but I keep coming back to it and referencing it in dreams so often that it’s as real to me as, say, New York City. Actually, I’ve been to this place more often than I’ve been to New York City.

It’s a large warehouse or industrial complex, up on a hill with trees around it and reached by a long winding road. Sometimes it’s abandoned, sometimes not, but there are almost never any people there.

I first dreamed of this place when I was a teenager, I think. It was abandoned then, and I sneaked in and started digging in the floor. What I found was a large open space and then more space under that. There were man-made tunnels going out in all directions and further down and further down, it went, maybe forever.

Every dream is slightly different, but it’s always the same kind of place with empty tunnels and dark spaces going down and down out of knowledge. Just a few weeks ago, I dreamed that I was camping with my family and we drove past that place. I saw it up on the hill and knew it was the same place I’d been dreaming about for half my life. I wanted to bring them all up to show them the place, but we didn’t because dreams frustrate you just as much as they enthrall you.

Anyone who has read my (still unpublished) novels will be able to see this love of vast, dark spaces pretty easily. It is a theme that excites and fascinates me and make me feel that heartache longing, redolent of nostalgia and homesickness for a home I’ve never seen. I’m not sure why, but that’s me.

It’s why I love the work of H.P. Lovecraft or House of Leaves or Empire of the Ants. It’s why one of my favorite parts of Lord of the Rings is when they are in the mines of Moria. I am at home in huge, dark spaces. It’s what I dream about when my conscious mind takes a break and I let my subconscious out of its box, to play and plot. To dream.

The-House-house-of-leaves-692472_800_600

The House, from House of Leaves (Source)


Net Sacrifice – Friday Fictioneers

I am crazy busy these days. I apologize for not being around more and not posting as much as usual. Someday, perhaps, things will get back to normal. Thanks again to all those who shared my post about my t-shirt line, Fiction T’s. I’ll be drawing for the free t-shirts tomorrow.

copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

 Net Sacrifice

They dragged the screaming goat into the sweltering, LED-lit cave where hulking monsters hurled beams of light across the world, billions a second.

“We have the offering,” Mark said.

The Switch sat enthroned among the machines, a wizened creature with the light of a trillion bits gleaming in empty sockets.

“Goat,” it sneered. “I need more power! More speed! Bring me human.”

“Of course.” They escaped, the goat’s dying shriek echoing as the door slammed.

“We can’t do this,” Larry said. “People won’t stand for it.”

“No, people won’t stand for Google or Facebook slowing down.”

A pause.

“So . . . who?”

To me this story seems clear, but since it is sufficiently bizarre, for those who aren’t clear on the meaning, let me just say, it is as if the book Tubes, by Andrew Blum was instead written by H.P. Lovecraft. That’s all I’ve got: follow the links. Bonus points if you get the significance of the people’s names.


Tidings by Tide – Friday Fictioneers

No text this week, just pictures. Still 100 words exactly though.

copyright Georgia Koch

copyright Georgia Koch

Tidings by Tide

Tidings by Tide 1

Tidings by Tide 2

 Tidings by Tide 3

FF111 newspaper


Big Writing versus Small Writing

Big writing small writing

This idea came to me a few days ago as a way of thinking of different aspects of writing. I was thinking of H.P. Lovecraft as a matter of fact and considering whether he was a good writer or not. He is considered one of the masters of early cosmic horror, continuing on from Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce and William Hope Hodgson and one of the inspirations for modern horror. He was clearly hugely influential and was a master of huge, sweeping themes. On the other hand, his writing is filled with long, baroque descriptions and almost no dialogue. So, was he a good writer?

I concluded that he was good at big writing but not as good as small writing. Here was my thinking.

Big writing relates to the story, themes, action, and the characters. All the things you would say if you were asked what the story was about, and other Wh- questions.

Small writing has to do with the actual words the writer uses. It’s the description, the dialogue, the word choice. This is what comes out when you quote something from a story.

Of course, to be successful, you need to be good at both. No one wants to read a sweeping epic that reads like Dick and Jane, nor rich, velvety prose, sumptuous and sensuous as a triple layer chocolate cake if there’s no story to it. However, some writers seem to excel at one or the other.

Some notable “big writing” greats:

  • J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings has some great dialogue and description, but it’s the epic feel of it that leaves an impression.
  • J. K. Rowling. Not that her small writing is bad, but wow, it’s the world and big story that has made her a star.
  • Michael Crichton. I really love his books and while he’s not a bad writer, it’s the stories and action that really pulls you in.

Some great “small writing” authors:

  • William Shakespeare. This one is debatable, since he is great all around, but I would argue that his stories are fairly conventional and it is his rapier-sharp dialogue and turns of phrase that have made him a legend.
  • Barbara Kingsolver. I thought of her because I’ve been reading the Poisonwood Bible lately. Just a few sentences and you feel like you are right there with the family in the Congo, breathing in the same air and all.
  • Edgar Allan Poe. It is a joy to me to read his words, like some sort of lexical opiate.

These are a few examples that I thought of off the top of my head. Which writers do you think really excel at “big writing” or “small writing”? Let me know.


Blue Storm – Visual Fiction

For those who are new to my blog, I do a Visual Fiction flash fiction every Sunday, based around a picture of mine that I find inspiring. If you’d like to join me in this, feel free to use the picture to write your own story. Just give me the link to yours in the comments, since I’d love to read it. I write stories of all genres and moods, although this one happens to be rather dark.

Taken in Jeonju, South Korea

Taken in Jeonju, South Korea

I knew that magic had a price, but it never occurred to me that it might extend beyond the one foolish enough to try to wield it.

*

“Jules, you’re mad! Quit it!” I shouted, trying to be heard above the rising winds. Jules was standing in the circle he had drawn in the forest clearing, shaking convulsively. At the time, I thought it was some sort of ecstasy of unholy power, but now that I reflect, it looked more like a person who has grabbed onto an electric fence and has tapped into a source of power far too vast for them to handle.

I ran, just as the clouds overhead began to seethe and spread a poisonous blue hue across the sky. It moved faster than I, and by the time I returned to my apartment, it had covered the city. A rift of dazzling light appeared in it and the last thing I saw before I shut and locked my door was a rain of dark objects beginning to fall.

*

It has been two days. I have not heard from Jules, but if he is dead, he is lucky. The city is in a panic at the unearthly scourge that has overrun it. There are many names for them: imps, goblins, demons. No one knows what they are, only that they are incredibly hard, if not impossible, to kill.

I sit and cower at home now, regretting any part I played in Jules’ mad schemes. I know that if they should find me, the concrete walls of my apartment will offer me little protection. Still, I wait and pray that this storm, like all others, might eventually pass.


The Thing in the Mausoleum

(This is meant as an homage to H.P. Lovecraft. It’s not as good as his work, of course, but it’s a similar style.)

Brock Harbor has been destroyed and no one can agree on how it happened. The official story, the one published in the paper, tells how a propane refueling station exploded, leveling most of the buildings in the town of 4000 and starting fires that claimed the rest. No official reports mention the troops that descended on the town with flamethrowers just before dawn or the eerie glowing thing that that many witnesses claim to have seen moving among the houses. I was more than a witness. I helped start it all.

Dr. Robert Julius was a brilliant scientist and a close friend of mine for many years. He was primarily a physicist, but later in his life he became fascinated with the occult, at least  in its original meaning of “that which is hidden”. He was convinced that there was a connection between traditional science and spirits. One day I came into his laboratory to see him poring over a large manuscript written in a heavy, Gothic script.

“It’s old German,” he said in response to my question. “A translation of an older Persian work on what the text calls damons.”

“Demons?” I asked, my lips curling in amusement.

“Not exactly,” he said. “These beings have often been confused in folklore with the traditional spiritual demons, but the Persian actually means ‘the things that lurk beyond’. I call them ‘Those Beyond’. What they are, however, I am not entirely sure. The text hints at a physical body, but also extreme longevity and powers of some sort.

Those Beyond could not be killed, but they could be contained and held captive, Robert continued. The manuscript gave a symbol that was said to be used in containment rituals, a radiant sun with a curling serpent entwining it. I was not surprised when he told me that he was searching everywhere for an example of that symbol.

Two months later, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from Robert. At first, I feared bad news, but his excited tone soon reassured me. He had found the symbol, he said, among photos from a cemetery in Brock Harbor, Connecticut. It was small and faded, but he was positive it was the same one. I valued my sleep and so would not let him continue too far, but promised that I would go to his laboratory the next day.

The next day he showed me the photos and I will admit that I became intrigued. The symbol was found stamped on the door of the  mausoleum of a family named Drake.

“They say that the grandfather of the family, Jeremiah Drake, had seen action against the Ottomans during World War I and had reportedly returned to Brock Harbor with several strange objects. He had become obsessed with death and had built the mausoleum while still in his forties. The whole family became close and secretive and it was said that at times they visited the mausoleum in the dead of night. The last of the Drakes died ten years ago, but by then, such an aura of fear surrounded the mausoleum that the town coroner went against the wishes of the deceased and had him cremated instead.”

“And you are going to go find this mausoleum?” I asked, knowing full well the answer.

“We are going to go find it together,” he said, giving me his characteristic mischievous smile.

I put up some token resistance, but the truth was I found the proposition exciting. Not that I truly believed we would find anything, of course. We left the next day and took the train north to Brock Harbor. We reached the town just as the sun was going down.

We found a hotel and a place to eat and then waited restlessly for the midnight to come before we started. Robert asked a few of the locals about the Drake mausoleum but as soon as he mentioned the name, they got up and left, giving him dark looks as they did.

A little before midnight we went to the room and Robert went through the equipment he had brought: a lantern, rope, crowbars, and finally, a revolver.

I looked at him questioningly. “You said these things couldn’t be killed. What possible use could that be?”

“You never know, my friend,” he said with a smile. “Best to be prepared for anything.”

We left the hotel a little before midnight and walked down the main street. The cemetery, we had discovered, was on the hill overlooking the town. The iron wrought gate was locked but we climbed it and Robert lit the lantern.

The mausoleum was immediately apparent. Set in the back of the cemetery, it loomed fifteen feet tall above the other graves. It was made of black stone that was as dark as coal and seemed to absorb the light of our lantern. No other graves stood near it and it was surrounded by a low ridge of raised ground. A shiver went down my spine as I stepped over it.

The doors of the mausoleum were made of a heavy, dark wood and banded with iron, but the handles were only padlocked together with a chain. Robert took out a crowbar and after a moment of effort, forced the lock open. The noise of the chains rattling to the ground seemed like bells in the night silence. I looked around in panic, but no one was nearby. Robert snorted at my cowardice and pushed the doors open.

Inside the vault, racks on either side held eleven coffins, with space for five more. The center was open and paved with black granite. At the far end was an altar carved with the symbol of the serpent coiling around the sun.

“Look,” Robert said. He pointed to the top of the altar and I could see the tiny skeleton of some animal—perhaps a cat—that had been cut in half. The skull was missing.

“What now?” I asked. Fear was coming over me in waves. I could not see how Robert could appear so calm.

“Hide the lantern for a moment, would you?” Robert said. He wasn’t looking at me; he was examining the sides of the altar. I threw my coat over the light and the vault was thrown into utter darkness.

All except for a tiny square of light. It was shining in thin lines, as if through thin cracks. Robert had me take out the light again and I saw that the light had come from around the central stone of the altar, the one with the symbol carved in it.

Robert proposed levering out the stone but I refused to help. All I wanted to do was escape and I repented of every thinking of helping him. In the end, I went outside to keep watch. I heard the clank of the crowbar and the slow scrape of stone. Then there was a thud and an unearthly light suddenly shone out of the door of the mausoleum.

I looked in, although my knees were shaking. Robert was standing frozen in silhouette in front of the light that was now pouring out of the hole in the altar. It seemed to grow brighter and then spread, as if it were seeping through other cracks. I heard a stone crack and the top of the altar exploded upwards, showering the inside of crypt with stones and tiny bones.

“Robert, don’t be a fool! Get out of there!” I shouted. He didn’t move, even as the light increased and something crawled and groped its way with luminous tentacles out of the hole where the altar had been.

Robert’s head suddenly jerked to the side convulsively and he clawed at the revolver in his pocket. “Get out of here, Freddy!” he shouted. The last thing I saw was Robert’s black form pointing the revolver at the hellishly bright thing that now filled most of the mausoleum. Then terror overcame me and I ran and stumbled to the cemetery gate. Just as I reached it, I heard a shot.

I was torn. I could not go back, but I did not want to leave Robert, even if he were dead. I looked back to see that the glowing thing had emerged from the mausoleum and was making its way swiftly towards the fence. It was an amorphous, writhing mass of half-formed serpent-like shapes that constantly grew out and then dissolved back into the central mass. The fence seemed to disintegrate in front of it, and then it was gone, down the hill and towards the town.

I made my faltering way back to the mausoleum. The lantern was still on, although knocked to one side. In its flickering light, I could see Robert’s body lying on the cold, black marble, shot through the head with his own revolver. I left him and ran.

The thing was among the houses by then. It seemed to have grown and was slowly crushing the houses beneath it, enveloping them one by one. I heard screams of terror and pain like I have never heard come up the hill and I thought I would go mad.

I saw many things that night, some of which I only remembered later through hypnosis. The army found me, running wildly along the highway, sobbing and tearing at my hair.

That was two months ago. The doctors say I have made great improvement and they have finally allowed me to go home. I went willingly, but there are times I wake up to hear those terrible screams coming back endlessly to me through the memories of the night.


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