David Hambling is the author of two Mythos novellas, “The Elder Ice” and “Broken Meats” (available on Amazon), and a new collection from PS Publishing “The Dulwich Horror and others.”
“The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones… the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.”
HP Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
I visited Josh a week after his world ended, bringing him a takeaway curry and six bottles of Cobra beer.
Josh had not been diagnosed with cancer. He had not suffered a stroke, or any of the other medical emergencies that set phones ringing at three in the morning. His wife was safe and healthy, not killed in a car crash. When I say his world ended, that’s exactly what I mean.
Josh’s Armageddon ran to a timetable, and we had been through the countdown. It had started months before, when Josh began sending me emails about the coming apocalypse, cut-and-pasted web collations studded with PHRASES IN UPPER CASE about aliens and quantum physics. Continue reading »
“Pastiche” is usually a dirty word in Lovecraftian circles. Memories of August Derleth classifying Cthulhu as a “water elemental” in his attempts at Christianizing the Old Gents’ work make today’s reader shudder in entirely the wrong kind of horror.
Robert DeFrank calls “The Mythos Path” a “pastiche,” and it does have elements of a Robert Bloch or other master’s technique at producing palimpsests of the Old Gent’s work. Like Bloch or Wandrei or others, he uses the names of the old “forbidden” books in a quick list, writes in a style reminiscent of HPL with its precise wording and its protagonist who has learned too much!but also like those writers, he has taken this pastiche style and made it something all his own. His treatment of the shoggoth idea in particular is astounding.
This is a longer work, and every word is worth reading.
(From the journal of Dr. Arthur Murphy, alienist on staff at the Canton Hospital for the Insane.)
I am a rational man.
This may come as a surprise to some of my acquaintances, considering my unconcealed love of weird literature, poetry and a near-obsession with the Hellenic myths, the traditions of which are the foundation of Western thought. But like the most canny of Greeks I eschew reliance on mysticism and see the imaginative works purely as a rich source of analogy for the human condition.
Sometimes you hear about eerie stories that “They don’t write ’em like they used to.” Well, please allow us to present Exhibit A of the defense. It riffs on the Egyptian tales Lovecraft used to write, sometimes under his byline, sometimes under another’s. But notice how the author sidesteps pastiche and makes this tale all his own.
“This is your office for the summer. You are expected to keep it useful and you are expected to keep it tidy. As it is now yours, it will belong to another after you leave.”
“I understand,” said Sarah. She resisted the urge to check if she had tracked any desert dust in on her shoes.
We hope you enjoy this dirty little Mythos tale. Read with the door locked and maybe have a tissue or two handy. BECAUSE YOU MIGHT BE SO SCARED, YOU MIGHT CRY, OKAY? Perverts.
You would’ve done it too. She looked like a cross between Dita Von Teese and what you picture when you masturbate about WWII bomber pinup nose art. Lips the color of a spicy tamale, skin so creamy white you could paint a Bob Ross mountaintop with it, eyes like a police sketch artist would draw if you only said, “smoky bedroom with a touch of startled arousal.” And her voice, oh, that voice that sounded like a panther purring while being spanked with a leather strop.
The rubbery, gibbering mass slithered and snorted. Atrophied arms and legs—more like flippers—waved helplessly. Its body was iridescent and covered with gaping mouths, blind eyes, and suckers. Its tentacles flailed, and it smelled like rotten potatoes and sour milk.
“Can I keep him?” The boy looked up at his mother, all innocence and hound-dog expression.
(Author’s Note: Though the description for these beings is that used for Byakhee in the Call of Cthulhu rulebook and Malleus Monstrum, this author and others believe the creatures in Lovecraft’s “The Festival” are not Byakhee as envisioned by Derleth. This entry provides a distinction between the monsters.)
“There flopped rhythmically a horde of tame, trained, hybrid winged things that no sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember. They were not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; but something I cannot and must not recall. They flopped limply along, half with their webbed feet and half with their membranous wings…” – H.P. Lovecraft, “The Festival”Continue reading »
If it were not for the help of a scorned mistress, we would never have gotten so far. The surface of the oak door was covered in an intricate pattern of symbols and words, though nothing we recognized. As we traced the pattern the mistress described, the carvings began to glow with an inner light. Suddenly the door opened with a soft puff of air.
Before us stood an ghastly sight… leathery skin covered the frame of a being that might once have been human and carved, ever so intricately open its flesh were words. It did not move upon our entry. In fact it looked quite like a mummy unwrapped from its linens. It appeared that one hand seemed blackened as if some intrepid explorer got their torch too close. As Clayton stepped closer to examine the cramped writings, I surveyed the rest of the room. Here was a treasure beyond anything we could hope to imagine. Books thought lost to humanity, hidden here.
I was just reaching to stroke the spine on an exquisite copy of Liber Ivonis, when Clayton shrieked. I turned to see my partner’s hand, held fast within the dried and leathery grip of this human book. How it had moved, apparently so beyond life, is beyond my understanding… but as I stood in shock, I could see it’s mouth begin to form words. The dry cracked lips whispered in a language I didn’t know, and my partner stood fixed to his spot, bond to the strange creature before us.
As I drew my gun, a sultry voice spoke behind me, “We can have none of that my dear…”. Something hard can across the back of my head with such force that I fell flat. Something warm trickled down the back of my neck. As I lost consciousness, I was certain that I could see the words carved into it’s skin glow and swirl and dance between it and my partner.
I awoke with a start, lying by the ghastly figure, no longer speaking, no longer moving. Clayton was no where to be seen and the rare books that had lined the walls of this secret room were gone.
“It was a rectangle of tawny, limp parchment, grained on the upper-side with scales, like the skin of some unfamiliar reptile. It turned it over, the other surface was smoother, with pore-like markings and lines of faint, rusty scribbling.” – Manly Wade Wellman, The Terrible Parchment. Continue reading »