Regular contributor Duane Pesice turns his horrified gaze upon the realm of a certain jaundiced ruler …
The leading edge of the ripple is aquamarine, with trailing edges of amethyst. The two small suns, nameless, are prominent, one pale yellow, one dim crimson, high in an azure sky. The twin moons, nameless also, trace a path from the lake shore to the far horizon, passing before the starscraping towers of ruined Carcosa, over the courts of the King in Yellow.
It is the first season of the year on Carcosa. The blooms have yet to show. The lake, Hali, is verdant, mordant, fertile with possibility.
The versions of the play that are performed this season may hold out some forlorn hope, a touch of pathos, of genuine tragedy amid the madness and death. Perhaps a player or two will even survive until the next performance.
Stranger things have happened, in Yhtill.
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Things keep getting worse for our intrepid adventurer. MUCH worse.
The voice kept guiding Taylor. Whatever kind of car they were driving it was clear that it had more oomph than the SUV he drove. It didn’t help that he had no desire to get caught by the police, thus giving him far greater caution than they needed to exhibit. Still, he didn’t seem to be losing them.
“They only need to delay us. Can they summon the things or open the portal while they’re on the move?” He asked the question out loud, though he didn’t think he needed to.
“No. They will need to stop and make some sacrifices to do what they need done. It doesn’t need to be a big one, but the larger the amount of life force, the bigger the gateway.” The Mad Arab’s voice was real enough for Taylor to wonder if anyone else would be able to hear it.
I shall not hold you in suspense, Dear Reader, as I leave you with the burden of these, my final words. The ‘Death’ in the title of this note is, of course, mine own. Why I chose All Hallows’ Eve to perform my final act is pure coincidental timing. The gray aliens killed my mother. Then a group of Deep One cultists carried my father away to a watery demise. In both cases I could do nothing to intervene. The gray aliens somehow froze me and the cultists hit me on the head and knocked me unconscious. I am alone but not for much longer, Dear Friend.
I hope I prepared whoever finds me with the emergency signs I printed for the windows:
WARNING! CARBON MONOXIDE GAS! DO NOT OPEN DOOR! CALL 911!
A solipsistic trip into the mind of one who sees, from a perch atop Miskatonic University, the reality of it all. Is it the navel-gazing of a philosopher … or the witnessing of the infinite horror within oneself?
When I dream of a void, I dream of an unending chasm. White shadows whisper, and they eat into my mind. I hear the smells of sacrificial flesh, and see the tastes of foreign meat. But these are only nightmares.
I loathe my place in life. I want to escape, but I cannot. The city never seems to let me leave. At times, it nearly seems intentional—when I try to leave or have an out of town conference, I am always derailed or deferred. To be frank, I have never left the city in my entire life. Though I know that it is surely by chance or lack of ambition, it nonetheless seems entirely wrong. Does the city have a sentience? Logically, I know that is impossible, but these paranoias chill me nonetheless. But I want to leave! I need to leave, or I will die here. If I have decades left of life here, will that provide the opportunity I need? I think not.
Jordan Hofer pulls no punches in this unsettling story. It’s horrible, viscerally repulsive, and all too real. Enjoy!
Poverty was to blame. For it was only a child, lonesome and the victim of parental and societal neglect. Its parents were permanently unemployed and suffered from maladies psychological, purely physical, and self-inflicted. Its mother drank wood alcohol and the father huffed petrol.
A meager inheritance from the deceased Harold Shappel, entrepreneur of witch trial tourism, fed and housed his debased son and sole heir. Harold Junior and his wife Martha née Corey, clothed the Shappel boy in rags and smothered the rags in a lumpy gray overcoat to keep it warm, even in spring and summer months. The child seemed to produce very little heat of its own metabolism. It smelled of black mold and horridly sour body odor.
A surgical strike at your amygdala, where fear is produced.
The Stygian Walkers approach.
First hear the rumblings, the chthonic quakes that shake shelves and spires alike. Heads rush out to the street, tilting backwards to squint up through the haze—to see pinpricks burning red, outshining the obscured sun. A single spindly limb plunges through the distant mountain, shattering sand and stone and soil. The crimson eyes sway, and grow.
Bang: the alarm’s thin reverberation. Final few feet scamper down stairs to join the valley church ex tempore. A wave of birds flee shrieking overhead. The ground shudders once more, another closer step. For a moment reigns oppressive silence, broken only by the wail of an inconsolable infant in its mother’s unsteady arms. The minister, raising trembling hands to the sky, shrieks:
Not upon us, oh King! Not upon us!
The cry echoes, unnoticed.
The foot raises.
Dr. Taylor drove as long and as fast as he reasonably could. His eyes felt like they were made of sandpaper. His yawns threatened to crack his jaw and no amount of head shaking and skin pinching could keep him alert. The second time he drifted off, he recognized it was time to pull over. If he didn’t, he’d die in the resulting crash and all really would be lost.
He passed an exit that announced the presence of several hotel chains. The street he eventually found himself on was littered with the refuse of humanity. He pulled into a two story-hotel whose neon “Vacancy” sign had a burned out “Y”. The potholes were more like craters and there were only five cars he could see.
In this installment, our hero finds that even home isn’t safe where the amulet is concerned.
By the time Taylor pulled into his driveway, it was well after supper. Thankfully he’d already told Martha not to hold dinner for him. He hadn’t anticipated being this late, but he didn’t really know when he was going to be back. He blocked in his wife’s car, even though he hadn’t needed to. He exited the Land Rover and the security light turned on, illuminating their walkway. A fierce believer in conservation, Martha had insisted there would be no grass in their yard. Only native plants and rock would grace the property, in addition to some trees. It made the whole place look a little stark, but the austerity suited his mood.
Rather than enter the house proper, he walked to the door into the garage. Like most people he knew, they never actually parked a car in here. He’d made it into a sort of satellite office. There was space here for extra file storage, a few woodworking projects, and items from his travels around the world. Truthfully it was a dumping ground and he and Martha fought over it for years. He heard footsteps from people moving around upstairs. Soundproofing this area was another thing on his to do list. He’d never get around to that now. He walked to his desk and pulled a box of shells out of the drawer. With mechanical motions he loaded both pistols. Rather than taking the gun belt off as was his custom, he just made sure his shirt draped over it again. He wouldn’t be staying long.
This article is a submission to the Shoggoth.net Augustus Cantus contest sponsored by Golden Goblin Press. Give it a read for when voting opens up, and go ahead and try your own entry!
In the remote mountains of Tarraconensis (Hispania / Spain) there exists a mysterious sect known as the Tenders of the Stone. The region they operate in encompasses about a dozen villages and towns, mostly pastoral in nature, although some trade in silver, olives, and wine. The Tenders are thought to be natives on these villages, although their specific identities are unknown. The cultists, usually a procession of thirty members, gather on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox and visit a seemingly random village within their domain. They then demand the tribute of a single human being to be given up to their “God of Stone”, “The Provider of Prosperity”. In return all the villages in the region are ensured a prosperity. Continue reading