Tag archives for weird fiction

52! Part 3

52! Part Three

As the seconds and minutes and hours and days pass, zip-zip-zip-zip-zip of the tabled riffle shuffle keeps time better than any clock Hank ever saw in his life. And that was good, because there is no day or night here, no sleep or waking or chowtime or … anything, really. No sky, no earth, no sun, so moon, no stars. Just the chair that didn’t hurt his ass or feel particularly comfortable; the table of smooth and shiny wood, like something out of a fancy parlor; other than there’s just whiteness, just nothing blankness without horizon or shadow or any feature at all. 

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52! Part 2!

white-clad apparition laughs as he torments a smaller Caucasian man on the floor.


“Ah, I see the issue now. I neglected to fill in the details.” Pip motions for Hank to hang on to the eerie deck rather than hand them back. “What I ask you to do is to shuffle these special cards, again and again, until you have exhausted all possible arrangements. For example, one arrangement would be new-deck order, such as how they lie right now.”

“Wrong, dummy. You just saw me shuffle … um, twice …“ Hank says, but loses the thread as he spreads the cards in his hands and sees that his shuffles either never happened or he accidentally shuffled them right back into twos through aces for each suit. “Heh, would you look at that.”

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"Angel of Death" character talking with card sharp in old west jail cell, the angel standing while card sharp is lying or sitting on the bunk. The Card sharp character is dusty old west reprobate.


Deadwood Jail, South Dakota, 1877. 

A man lies upon the wooden bench that serves as a bed, running his fingers over a face he keeps shaven even after two weeks in stir. This is the card sharp “Hard Hank“ Hart—“Triple H” to his friends.

Or would be, that is, if Hank still had any. Most of the men he once called friends had preceded him to gallows just like the one being assembled rather loudly on the other side of the cell’s barred window; and the rest, to a man, had ended up shot dead for cheating … or sure looking like they were, anyhow.

Hank would know, too, since he’s the one who pulled the trigger.

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More 2022 madness!

Why not take this opportunity to warn you about… Fiction Fridays!! Every friday new fiction will be posted here on Shoggoth.net. This year is looking up! As always feel free to submit any Cthulhu Mythos creations to [email protected]

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Check Your Shoggoth’s Expiration Date (or What to do When your Shoggoth Goes Bad)

Shoggoth’s don’t live forever, you know. They are built specifically for tasks that have timebombs programmed into them, meaning: every shoggoth has an expiration date, and if you thought they they were bad to be around on a normal day, I promise you, you don’t want to be there when they expire.

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Hooked Up

GuttedGutted by Doug Murano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was fortunate enough to be advanced a copy of this book prior to publication. And I mean fortunate. This book is destined to generate strong sales, firstly on the strength of the names involved (Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell), and then on the strength of the poem and stories included.
Stephanie M. Wytovich leads off with an effective piece of verse, which leads into what I think is the best story in the book: Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave.”
That story illustrates what lengths a person might go to to accomodate a loved one, in exquisite detail. The actual tableau is revolting, but the internal logic is inescapable. The tone is perfect.
“Splinters” is followed by Lisa Mannetti and then Neil Gaiman. Both stories are good — not pedestrian, but are overshadowed by the excellence of Kirk’s piece. Christopher Cooke’s “Dominion” levels up one from those and leads into a tetralogy of really effective horror tales by Mercedes M. Yardley, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, and Richard Thomas, before Clive Barker takes center stage with his “Coming To Grief”. I’m not going to say that this story is as good as “classic Barker” pieces like “In the Hills, the Cities”, but it is a Barker story, and has a certain resonance.
The second-best story, John F.D. Taff’s “Cards for His Spokes, Coins for His Fare”, which has distinct Kingian undertones, is set in the early 70s of my own childhood and morphs into a fairly classic ghost yarn. Cheers for the setting and characters.
Amanda Gowin contributes a decent piece, “Cellar’s Dog”, with a good portrait of po’ white trash, and Kevin Lucia adds “When We All Met at the Ofrenda”, which again hits me especially, as I live in the Southwest and am familiar with the lore that contributes to the setting and setup.
That’s followed by good pieces from Maria Alexander and Josh Malerman, before the capstone, Ramsey Campbell’s “The Place of Revelation”, which does not disappoint.
Strong, strong, strong. Pieces that find beauty in grotesquerie, love amid the ruins, that entice you with beauty and magic and then hang you on a meathook, still wanting more.
Gutted will have out your liver and lights in an instant, after you give your heart willingly.
An easy five stars.

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Madder than…

The Madness of Cthulhu Anthology (Volume One)The Madness of Cthulhu Anthology by S.T. Joshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lovecraftian anthologies tend to be uneven, especially earlier ones, where the stable of writers was fuller.
This is a later and smoother version, albeit with the work of some older and/or completely unexpected scribes. The level of craftsmanship is very high, and everyone clearly knows the material, which is another common issue.
I enjoyed it. Caitlin Kiernan’s story was the best, I thought (and think).

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Neon Noir in the Cities of the Red Night

Riding the CentipedeRiding the Centipede by John Claude Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Terrance Blake is the best man in his world and would be a good man in most worlds. Rudolf is a mutant villain without a shred of decency, but still disciplined and purposeful. They are on a collision course, and don’t know it. Jane and Marlon Teagarden are only the twin rails that the story rolls along on, and only one of them is Riding the Centipede.
I get the sense that a lot of the actual journey was cut. The scenes of experience don’t seem as protracted as they might be. And that may be for the best.
The setting and denouement are determinedly Burroughsian, though there’s not as much of the old up and out and more of the Burgessian ultraviolence as Chernobyl performs his version of art. Though Jane Teagarden could use a little more fleshing-out of character, that would probably detract from the hold-your-breath movement of the narrative, which comes to an explosive climax.
Background-5;plotting-5;characters-4;style-5. Round up to 5.
Highly recommended.

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Sexy and Cthulhu

Sex and the Cthulhu MythosSex and the Cthulhu Mythos by Bobby Derie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If nothing else is said about it, I’ll say that this book is exhaustively researched. It doesn’t seem that a stone is unturned or an avenue unwalked in this exploration of Howard Philips Lovecraft’s love and sex life and how they may have affected his fiction, and by extension, that of many others who have followed in his footsteps.
The tone is dry, scholarly. It can be offputting if you’re used to the jauntiness of professional fiction. It took me a while to get used to it, and to dig deeply into the book. That’s not a knock-it is what it is.
This is a sober discussion of the subject(s) at hand, and the tone is the right tone.
Citations and quotations from members of the “Lovecraft Circle” and others who knew him well jostle for space with opinions from people outside the circle but in the know, and information from other professionals fleshes put the lot.
The book starts out exploring Lovecraft himself and then moves on to his fiction, that of others, and the influence of both on the “current state of weird fiction”, if there is such a thing.
If you’re into juicy, there’s enough information there to choke a Gug. Definitely worth the read if you’re interested in the world behind the Cthulhu Mythos, and interesting as a research subject even if not.

It isn’t for everyone, but is an excellent example of its type.
Four stars. Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos

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Behind the Eight-Ball

Image is a rate with the feet, hands and head of an elderly bald man.

Brown Jenkins by John Donald Carlucci

Behind the Eight-Ball

soundtrack here.

Buzzing. Buzzing and creaking and hissing, a conversation whispered in darkness. Nat was a fly on the wall, having gotten curious after a half-hour or so of intense colloquoy.
“I saw red,” Brown Jenkin said simply. “When the Zoog-weasels attacked me for no reason whatsoever, I retaliated.”
The man in black nodded. “And so it was necessary to kill them all. I see.” He templed his fingers, put them to his mouth thoughtfully.
“You realize that this kind of behavior is why I didn’t keep you on, yes?”
“I do. But I am who I am.” Jenkin scuffed at the ground with his left foot.
“Pity, that.” A chuckle came from the darkness under his hood. “You can be useful. So, since you’ve managed to be persona non grata in yet another place, what do we do with you now?”
“Promote me. Make me governor. You have kingdoms to spare. Why not me?”

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