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INSOMNIAPRESS Happy Birthday Lovecraft!


Insomnia Press e come then to the second Issue of Insomnia Press, dear reader. With our first issue we gave you but a taste of what our magazine is all about. And one thing we’re very much about is not forgetting our roots. Dark fiction is an ancient tree, gnarled and deep like Ygdrassil itself, reaching upward to a black night and deep down through the earth itself. Aren’t most stories, in some way, a bit dark? What I mean to say is our roots run deep.

Letter from the Editor

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That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeFor this reason we like to honor those that have come before ons, even death may die. us. H.P. Lovecraft was a curious man. He was a recluse, an intellectual, a child prodigy, and had a bit of a social phobia. While many love his writing, some say it wasn’t his writing that was all that good, but the world he introduced us to. Whatever the opinion of the man is, it’s hard to argue that he was not an innovator. H.P. Lovecraft birthed an entire genre, and what would become a literary - and for some a cultural - movement. He sparked generations of creative thinkers and writers and artists and musicians. With a picture painted of infinite cosmos and uncaring, unknowable beings from beyond space and time, he showed us our own morality. He made us feel small, and most importantly, he frightened us and continues to frighten us to this day. For all he did in his short life, we want to thank H.P. Lovecraft. His birthday was August 20th, and although this issue was delayed, we’re still celebrating that day. So Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. Lovecraft.

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What follows is a collection of stories inspired by and drawn from the works of the man himself. You’ll find contemporary spins on old ideas, you’ll find pieces that set the mood of this issue, and you’ll even find an amusing story concerning Shoggoths and headwear. So turn the page, and keep this in mind:

Regards, R. Thomas Editor-in-Chief


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

Dark Dissections: Book Reviews by Dakota L. Taylor... 4 Below the Lights by G.P. Lanciano... 6 Decomposition by Toni Wi... 10 Divine and Eldritch Talks by Christopher Cirillo... 14 Habberdashers and Shoggoths by Antonio Alejandro Barroso... 18 NOMS by Jon Carroll Thomas... 22 Art Spotlight: Under the Full Moon by Steven Santiago... 27 Writing Advice by Alison J. McKenzie... 28

May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours when no power of the will, or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the chasm of sleep. Death is merciful, for there is no return therefrom, but with him who has come back out of the nethermost chambers of night, haggard and knowing, peace rests nevermore. - H.P. Lovecraft

Some Assembly Required by Adam Waxman... 32 The Chameleon by Daniel W. Gonzales... 38 The Line by Nathan Wunner... 42 The Mother of the Wood by Colin Timothy Gagnon... 46 The Passion of the Son of Man by Lars Backstrom... 58 The Eternal Diver by W. Wallace... 66 The Pathetic Fallacy by Gary Butterfield... 70

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Dark Dissections: Book Reviews by Dakota L. Taylor

Insomnia Press

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100 Years of Vicissitude by Andrez Bergen Andrez Bergen has a special knack for storytelling. His education shines through his prose, strengthening the layers of his novels. Bergen being a movie journalist, his imagination is equipped with many tools that come into play in every step of the writing process. 100 Years is a visual novel, saturated with rich descriptions and scenes. Crime, geishas, time travel; this book masterfully balances these things, creating an exciting tale. Filled with high and low brow humor, the story turns its nose up at pretentious literature while being tasteful thus adding to its satirical tone. One element of the novel is the self-discovery of the characters. This makes the novel raw, emotional, and above all: honest. These things keep a story alive through the years, entertaining the masses for generations. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone with a brain. Or a heart for that matter.


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

Transubstantiate by Richard Thomas Richard Thomas writes with the energy of a rabid dog and the precision of a brain surgeon. A skill that Thomas flaunts in Transubstantiate is his ability to leap from multiple narrative perspectives. This novel doesn’t read like a Check out stories, interviews and more reviews by Dajournal, it reads like ten people’s journal. kota Taylor at his blog: dakotaltaylor.com After disease has left society a shell of its former self, only to spawn an anarchy, the plan to create a perfect world on an isolated island is set into motion. Richard’s post-apocalyptic dystopia is a gritty one where no is safe but everyone is hiding a secret of their own. Transubstantiate covers ground that King visited with the Dark Tower series and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. Richard drops into each character’s mind without a shred of author interference. His characters are vulnerable, thus making them human. Human enough to pull your imagination by its short hairs and not let go. His characters become your friends and enemies as the story progresses.

I recommend this book to everyone.

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Below the lights by G.P Lanciano

Insomnia Press

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“Searchers after horror haunt strange far places…The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines,and they linger around sinister monoliths on uninhabited isles. But the true epicure in the terrible to who, a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England.” -H.P. Lovecraft Found among the papers of the missing E. Pickman Halloway To Whom It May Concern, It is under acute mental strain that I compose myself long enough to put this account to paper. These past weeks of revelation and dreams have told on me and I fear my constitution to be giving way. Whether this manuscript takes root is largely dependent on the mental soil of the reader; regardless, I urge the skeptics to consider it in light of the genuineness of the historic material.

In the Spring of 1931, I left my childhood home of Boston in search of a place of respite from this insane Jazz Age. I toured the towns of Marblehead, Ipswitch, Wilbraham and Newburyport but found in them the stilted atmosphere of old English colonialism. It is in the Blackstone Valley that I found a quaint country of ancient beauty and backwoods atmosphere. I settled down along the bends of the Blackstone Canal, a flowing waterway reared around 1824. Its purpose was to connect Worcester to Providence and provide much needed hydro-electric power along its lengths. Since its inception, mills have sprung up beside its babbling banks, yet my chosen residence was oddly void of such signs of industrialism. As I grew acquainted with the townsfolk, I learned of Traditional local holidays coinciding with the beginning and end of summer. They also, as I found, indulged in Ghost Stories and local legends were freely told of Swamp Lights being sighted between the two annual gatherings. Having myself a penchant for the weird, I resolved to learn more.


As with any local story, these legends are wild, far-reaching and as varied as the cultural strata that I questioned. The Common thread is that a small coven of witches took refuge in the marshes across the canal. Allegedly fleeing the prosecutions of 1692, they took their practice here but soon succumbed to their own devilish curiosities. These will-o-the-wisps are their spiritual manifestations, luring the sensitive out to their old haunt to ensnare and ensorcel. It is odd how such a grotesque legend had worked its way into a traditionally puritan people. It was the eve of May 1st, 1931 that I saw the spectral light for the first time. I was sitting at my Northern window, in front of which is my desk, reading a serial when I espied a faint glow peeking out from under the budding shrubs across the river. It shewn like no Light I had ever known. It was as if it were looking at me, through me. Yet how could it? It was merely a singular dot of distant luminosity but it nevertheless tugged at my will. I flew down to the rear entrance of my new-found home yet when I opened the door I saw nothing at all but the hint of a swiftly fading diminishing light. I

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

stood there watching for what felt like hours, yet knew were only minutes. I watched the still night and the moon play upon the murmuring water rolling though the ancient landscape, as if of some dream of Salvatore Rosa. The next day I walked along the rail-bed beside the canal. The land was cleared and leveled for tracks, yet none were ever laid. I knew not what I was looking for but ever felt the pull of an unseen force calling and beckoning me onward towards truth. It was then I decided to lay down my work and investigate in earnest the history and lore of this forgotten place, if for nothing else than to pursue inspiration for future artistic works. The following weeks were spent scouring town records, questioning clerks and librarians, and getting to know very well the proprietors of the town’s historical society. What I discovered only furthered my madness and I will lay the highlights of my investigations here: -Disappearances & drownings common in past 60 years, yet none reported prior to canal.

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Insomnia Press

Below the lights by G.P Lanciano

-Railway was set to lay in 1843 but an incident involving 3 deaths and 5 men injured halts and sinks the project.

thing far deeper, darker. It is fear. Fear that this is all there is. With our minds we push farther into unknown places searching frantically for another reason to be -Colonist raid targets a Nipmuc village lieve there is something more waiting for us living in the Marshes during King Phillips beyond the wall of perceptive existence. We War. Account of officers relate hint at are not content to sit on our pale blue dot cannibalism and sacrifice among the inhabi- and marvel at the rare beauty around us. tants. Instead we sweep aside the prosaic beauty to plow onward into the unknown reaches -Davenport Manuscripts document Alof our universe and existence. gonquin legend telling of ‘A Great Spirit sleeping under murky waters. One day he It is in like manner that I resolve to will awake and swallow the world’. follow the pull of these lights into that accursed marsh, into that landscape of What could this mean? Surely this is no matted mosses and blasted heaths. I leave coincidence, these accounts must be conthis letter so that in such a case as I do not nected in some way, yet how? What thread of return, some may know wherefore I depart truth lies under these fragmented bits of this world and venture into black abysses. corrupted history? I do not want to know, -E.P.H. I need to know. Even now as I write, I see and feel those damnable will-o-the-wisps, swamp lights, ancient spirits. Whatever they are, they call to me and I am done refusing their siren’s song. What is it inside men that pushes us to delve into mystery? Is it so innocent as childish curiosity? No, I think it is some-

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Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

On June 15, 1931 Edward Pickman Halloway was seen walking out of his home in Blackstone, Massachusetts for an evening walk. No mention of any suspicious lights were reported on that date. A search following the report of his disappearance scoured the woods of the surrounding area for 5 days. Nothing came of it.

AUTHOR BIO: G.P. Lanciano was born and raised in Massachusetts, so Lovecraft has always hit home for him. He supposes it has something to do with finding out you’ve been drinking water from the Quabin Reservoir (Blasted Heath) your whole life right after reading The Colour Out of Space (Thankfully, he has not turned into an undulating pile of ichor. Yet).

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Decomposition by Toni Wi

Insomnia Press

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We came across the old house at dusk. Jilly said we should look inside so we hid around in the bushes first just to be safe. It was probably empty, but you couldn’t be sure with these country houses. Anyone could be hiding out in them.

when a storm is brewing. This one had been following us since Highgate. There’d be no escaping it now.

The light was failing and the temperature cooling with it, so we had to either go in or move on. We needed a place to stay. It was too dangerous to camp outside without shelter at this time of year, especially with the threat of rain on the horizon. The sky rolled blue-black in the east, thunderclouds gathering together like old friends. I’d seen enough flash floods in my lifetime to instinctively head to higher ground

She nodded.

Jilly was shivering so I gave her my jacket. The shoulders were too big and she looked smaller and more fragile than ever, sitIt was a run-down place and I didn’t like the ting with her knees to her chin, her arms look of it. Most of the paint was gone. It clasped around her legs, an overgrown had once been a cheery yellow, but was now beetle. She’d be so easy to squash. I could faded, ravaged by rain and wind and neglect pinch her between my thumb and forefinger over time. The front door was ajar, the win- and be done with it. dows smashed inwards with jagged bits of glass sticking up out of the frames. On the She caught me looking at her and held my front porch a couch decayed in a mass of gaze. “Is it safe?” rotten wood and wet upholstery. And there was a strong stink about the house that “Don’t know. You wait here, I’ll check it could only mean one thing. Death. out.”

I slipped away and crept up to the porch, crouched over, listening for any sign of life. The smell up here was overwhelming; a mixture of mold, decomposition, and shit from whatever animal had been at the corpses. They were there, just inside. What was left of them at least. Bones, scraps of tissue. Small too. Like they had been kids


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

once.

Vaguely I thought of Jilly. I hoped she’d be ok.

The sight should have bothered me. But it didn’t. Because someone was standing just behind them. Someone with a gun.

He made it to the door. Looked at me for a second. And then he closed it.

He inched out of the shadows, raggedy and half-dead. A man. By the look on his face he might have been their father. But there was nothing human left in him now, nothing but space and echoes. I put my hands up and backed away slowly. He kept his gaze on me and his arms limp at his side. The gun pulled at him so that his whole body sagged forward. I could see his skull through his skin, the bulge of his eye sockets where there should have been flesh. His clothes were in rags, his hair tangled in clumps of dirt or blood. I should have said something, tried to run, but a chill crept over me, shot right up my spine and scared me stiff.

I had forgotten to breathe. Air came back like a punch in the gut. I staggered backwards and off the porch altogether, landing awkwardly in the weeds. Launching to my feet I ran back to the bush where Jilly was hiding, expecting to die at any second. She was already crying and pulled me close, shaking all over. “I thought you were gone. I thought you were dead.” I couldn’t find words. Fear had a hold of me, and if I let it, panic would be next. I grabbed her hand and pulled her away. It was almost dark. We ran as far as we dared till our sight gave out and we crept through the grass like insects, half-blind. There was no moon and no stars. When it finally started to rain we huddled against the first tree we found and tried to sleep.

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Insomnia Press

Decomposition by Toni Wi

AUTHOR BIO:

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Toni lives in New Zealand and writes mostly supernatural fiction with bits of fantasy thrown in for good fun. She is working on a gothic novel about trees. And magic.


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

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Drive and Eldritch Talks by Christopher Cirillo

Insomnia Press

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It began with a star, a very bright star. Though not as bright as the North Star, it was a close comparison. A very unusual star too, not because of how bright it was, but because every so often you would swear it wasn’t there. One night it would be there looking down at Lake Simcoe and the surrounding land, the next night however, it was simply gone. There never seemed to be a pattern to its disappearances’. Sometimes weeks would pass and no disappearance, but then, out of the blue, it would be gone. It had a permanent position beside the full moon, when the moon found itself near the highest point in the sky. It never changed, no matter the season. It was up there watching over Lake Simcoe. It was the start of autumn, the night sky clear and brilliant, with a full moon in a sea of stars. They pooled the cool light of the darkened heavens upon the waters below. The star was among them, at least for a little while. Perfectly bright and visible all night... until 3:33 am, at which point it vanished. At the same time, anyone looking out over the lake from the cottages and homes that lay in the vicinity of the Narrows, Simcoe side, would have spotted a very odd thing. Off a ways from the buoy,

between Strawberry and Grape Island, was a man. He’d simply appeared and was walking on the water as if it were firm as stone. He had a quick and commanding pace. Clad in all black, he swiftly passed nearby Grape Island and headed straight for the docks at the end of Forest Avenue. Within a brisk 10 minutes of his appearance, the man had reached the docks and was making his way up the hill. At the hill’s top, bathed in yellow from the last light post, situated in the middle of the road was a rabbit. The man walked up to the small woodland creature without it even flinching or scurrying away, as they so often do. The two just stood there on the road, between two very exquisitely cared for properties. The rabbit looked up at the man with its one good eye. The man continued to stare at the rabbit. “Why do you use such a pathetic, boring shell of a guise?” inquired the rabbit without words. The question had been spoken in a different fashion; a fashion man has yet to comprehend. The man sighed telepathically. “It suits my purpose. You wished to speak to me Death?” the innocent little black and grey rabbit was now seemingly far from in-


nocent. “Yes, but please no titles, you may refer to me by my true name Sytorammar.” The man nodded. “As you wish, Xthukha.” By any account recalled by anyone passing by or looking out their window, they would see nothing more than a man dressed in black and a shabby, haggard rabbit at his feet. Other perceptions would tell a far different story altogether. For the sake of simplicity and sanity combined, it is best to perceive these two entities as the physical appearances they deemed appropriate for their talks. The rabbit’s ears twitched slightly to the left. “To answer your question of why I called upon you, well you see, it’s nothing formal nor does it involve official business. I simply want to have a chat. Find out how the family is.” The man cocked an eyebrow. “The Choirs above?” “You know which family I refer to. The one you started with the aid of that little shell of yours.” The man’s brow furrowed with slight suspicion. “What do you want to know?” “I understand as Father to the new up and coming ‘Chosen’ you’ve had your eyes on this

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

cozy little plot of the world.” “I do whenever I can afford to. I have...” The man took a moment, deep in thought. “...other duties to attend to, which have gotten in the way.” “Of course, of course, I fully understand. You know I have my own little offspring out and about in the world.” The man was all too aware of the proximity of said offspring. It troubled him often to have such a brooding force lurking beneath an island so close to his own earthly family. “You see Sytorammar, my little ‘bundle of joy’, I think that’s what humans often refer to them as… she’s been a little rowdy and playful as of late. She’s been up to a bit of horseplay you see, and I was curious to know that since you have been watching over this area, had you noticed at all?” So that was the reason for this meeting, thought the man. “I have noticed a few… disturbances in the balance of things, all of which lead back to your offspring. If you were concerned about me sending a report to On High, as long as she does not affect my child’s upbringing, you need not worry.” “Who’s worried? Your high and mighty chief knows when to be complacent and keep out of affairs in the mortal world; Quite the

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Drive and Eldritch Talks by Christopher Cirillo

Insomnia Press

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party pooper if you ask me, but he has his way. He probably even already knows of the transpired events. Of the meager amount of lives that have expired because of my daughter, no, that’s not who concerns me. I don’t want any of your more zealous brethren getting any annoying ideas of righteousness; could cause a lot of heated problems between your kin and mine.” The rabbit waited a moment before continuing, the man looked thoughtful and nodded. Xthukha continued. “You’d think that they would take the example of the Father and stay out of things too, but then if that were the case, we wouldn’t have had the inquisition.” The rabbit thought of those dreadful, dark events. “Fun times.” “The way I understand it, your protégé had an argument with your...” The man took a moment to search for the appropriate word. “…daughter involving these matters.” “A minor fight, they’re over it now. Again only a few meager souls prematurely left the mortal world, nothing to get excited about. I have to wonder now, why would an up and coming angel such as yourself be willing to keep secrets from his su-

periors so easily?” There was a silence; broken only by the faint humming’s of a drunk wandering down the full stretch of Forest Avenue. Both beings were aware but fully unconcerned with the approaching presence. The silence between them lasted a bit longer. “Becoming a father changes things.” “I suppose it does.” “In any case, I still remain loyal to the Father and the Choirs. Nothing I withhold could ever jeopardize that.” “You need not logistify your silly little guilt to me, you’re the one living with it.” Were the one eyed rabbit able, with the simple fleshy form it had chosen, it would have given a devious smirk. The man glared at the rabbit, but then conceded with a sigh. “Is there anything else Xthukha?” “Yes, I would like to propose that we convene here every so often so that I may receive updates and such from you.” “Feeling lonely, Great Old One?” “Hardly. Remember this whole affair on this world is merely a part time gig for me. I simply want to keep tabs on my offspring and yours.” “And why is that?” “The future holds many interesting


things for them and this region. This very world will change with them. I believe their destinies are intertwined.” The man’s face darkened at the prospect and he reluctantly nodded. “Very well, if there is nothing more; I should like to resume my post.” The half blind rabbit’s head cocked to one side. “Afraid of raising suspicion from that mortal approaching? He is too consumed by drink to really notice us; though this could be an entertaining situation.” The rabbit turned to the now much closer human waddling from side to side as he reached the crossroads of Forest Avenue and Victoria Crescent. He was filthy and smelled very ripe, as he had been sweating profusely; he’d let his papered up bottle slip into the waterlogged ditch halfway down the road. The man by the rabbit turned back to the lake and began his walk. “Have your fun Elder One.” “Until next time Angel.” The rabbit hopped toward the drunk by the crossroads and looked up. The drunk looked down. “Well... hic... Hullo thar lil...” suddenly, his half closed and glazed over eyes widen unnaturally and uncontrollably as he beheld a sight of unspeakable horror before him, where the little black and grey one-eyed rabbit had been.

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

Sytorammar, still in the guise of a man clad in black walked over the waves of Simcoe, as a barely human gargling scream came down from the hill on Forest Avenue. All the covert angel did was look the other way, shake his head and vanish. The star appeared in the early morning sky once more. AUTHOR BIO: Growing up on stories and legends told by a several relatives who were equally interested in the paranormal and then later finding H.P. Lovecraft among other greats, Chris Cirillo (That’s Me) has always been a imaginative individual, whether it was through story writing or drawing (Lot’s of drawings: which can be found at crazon.deviantart.com), Chris has been in the world building business all his life. Characters, monsters and whole galaxies worth of worlds lie both on pages of paper, in digital form and in his mind. (Seriously, it’s getting crowded in there!) With a family and group of friends to both inspire and support his creativity, Chris likes to delve into many related and intertwined genres: horror, fantasy, science fiction and everything in between. He’s currently attempting to write Simcoe County, Ontario into a new Miskatonic valley (Ok, I’ll stop with the third person perspective now).

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Haberdashers and Shoggoths by Antonio Alejandro Barrroso

Insomnia Press

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“Damned buttons!” muttered Prof. Rice as he feebly pawed at his vest. Though anyone spectating the portly man as he struggled with his light brown suit would agree that “pawed” is the incorrect term to be used here. Imagine, if you will, a ladybug, standing unnaturally and uncomfortably upright, poking at her own carapace in hopes of liberating herself from the shell, all while nursing a hangover. That then would give us a much more accurate portrait of what exactly Prof. Rice was attempting to do with his vest’s wily, though wholly commonplace buttons. “Blast!” It was Prof. Rice’s propensity to speak to himself and project his inward thoughts outward that made him a notorious bother for his colleagues in the Classical Languages department at Miskatonic University. Overhearing an eccentric academic muttering about his gout flaring up tends to derail one’s train of higher academic thought. This distraction is further compounded when English is replaced with an ancient Semitic tongue, as the professor was known to do. It should be noted that such mutterings proved to be rather laborious for Prof. Rice, as when they were in ancient

tongues they often created anachronistic statements. Pre-Babylonians had little to no interest in “gout,” “bowling,” or “that leggy blonde in my intro class,” let alone the foresight to create words to describe such yet to be discovered things. Often Prof. Rice had to seek out the council of his fellow scholars to check himself from creating anachronisms that only he would be vain enough to care about. Because of this effort to actively collect second opinions, many grew suspect of how involuntary his supposed unconscious mutterings were. This, plus his proclivity toward uncomfortably chatting up aforementioned “leggy blondes” would eventually lead to his academic downfall. But such details about Prof. Rice, his subtle quirks, and his academic fate are of little use to us at this juncture. At this point it should be brought to the reader’s attention that Prof. Rice is no more than twenty yards away from a shoggoth. “Damned buttons!” To describe Dr. Armitage and Dr. Morgan’s reaction to Prof. Rice’s shockingly misplaced priorities as incredulous would be a grievous understatement. Armitage was flummoxed, and Morgan was downright


miffed. Despite this, they both stood beside Rice, boldly facing off against the shifting black and massive form of the shoggoth. Armitage clutched an ancient tome in his hands while Morgan held a glowing talisman of uncertain origin and age. Had Tennyson been witness to the bravado of these brave men, he would have saved his best and most triumphant words to describe them. Certainly, they with their unflinching determination to banish mankind’s greatest threat would have out-shined any cavalry immortalized in verse. “This suit is simply not the appropriate thing to be wearing at a time like this,” added Rice, a little dismay’d. The shoggoth at this time took a moment to reflect. As it watched the professor ineffectively attempt to remove the outer layers of his intricate outfit, it was reminded of a simpler time. A time when it and its fellow shoggoths destroyed the incalculably ancient civilization of the Elder Things. There was a very interesting parallel being drawn between the drama of untold millennia and the current depressing display of the creature’s newest adversaries. History seemed to be repeating itself. Carvings and sculptures sequestered away in arctic ruins tell the epic of the Elder Things. Colonization of the planet Earth. Genesis of

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

new life-forms. Devastating warfare the likes of which the human mind cannot fathom. All these things and countless other histories are contained within the leagues of carvings and inscriptions. Yet, the tale of their downfall remains an enigma only partially understood by a handful of scholars driven mad by its profound horror. Shoggoths were the sole retainers of such eldritch knowledge. They alone knew the formula for the downfall of those once great primordial ones. Watching Prof. Rice successfully free his third of six buttons took the shoggoth’s memory back to that moment in prehistory when they realized and enacted their master plan. It became clear that the fall of man would be an eerie imitation of that of the Elder Things. The shoggoth knew what weapon it and its brood must use to put an end to this new enemy. The same weapon it used eons ago. Fashion. In the shoggoth’s mind, the demise of the human race would be ensured by our tendency to fiddle about with clothing, much like how the Elder Things met their grisly fate -- because of their love of hats. In order to fully understand this of course, one must become aware of a number of occult facts. The Elder Things were simultaneously fond of as well as vexed by the unique shapes of their star fish shaped heads.

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Haberdashers and Shoggoths by Alejandro Barrroso

Insomnia Press

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As such, a well fitting hat was something an Elder Thing could be proud of. Time and materials were required to create a suitable headpiece, and being the ever busy heads of a proto-socialist state, these were usually in short supply. Exquisitely talented haberdashers were also required to pull off this feat of cosmic fashion. Some preferred the craftsmanship of the Mi-Go, others took it upon themselves to create their own, but everyone could agree that hat making was beyond the base skills of the Cthulhu spawn. Justification for their hat obsession ran thusly: Creating not only the most advanced civilization this terrestrial plane has ever known, but also its most fashionable head covering warrants a display of the fruits of said labors. This, of course, is a sparse yet primarily accurate simplification of the writing of the Elder Things. To supply the reader with a verbatim translation would require not only a hyper evolved mind, but also seven miles worth of rock for the author to carve upon. The shoggoth was suddenly awash with bittersweet recollections of defiling the hats of the Elder Things. Once these fond memories retreated

back to the unimaginable depths of the shoggoth’s memory, it then and there resolved to destroy all humans in light brown three piece suits. It should be noted however, that this is a gross oversimplification of the thought process of the shoggoth, with the exception of its mention of the brown suit. Being that there is no equivalent to that particular wavelength in the shoggoth’s color spectrum, it simply referred to the color of the suit as the shoggoth equivalent of the term “unnamable.” “That does it for the vest. Now where is my hat?” Checkmate. AUTHOR BIO: Antonio Alejandro Barroso was raised on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Borrowing the plot of “The Raven” for a second grade writing assignment was the first sign that something was horribly wrong with him. Moving onto Lovecraft in high school, he began exploring weird fiction, and now, halfway through a master’s degree in literature, he is that weird guy in class who knows far too much about tentacles. Still living in his home town in Michigan, he has tricked the locals into letting him educate children at the local junior high school.


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

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NOMS by Jon Carroll Thomas

Insomnia Press

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The noise—when you first hear it—strikes you as funny, he tried to explain. Even now he’s unsure if he should laugh or not. He said it sounds like a cartoon, like an actor’s impression of a flat tire or a pig in mud. His own impression, I confess, made me laugh—GRAWB, GRAWB, GRAWB—his eyes almost as wide as his mouth. Then he laughed too, and then added, nervously, “Only it doesn’t stop.” I can tell he is distressed, even more than he thinks he’s letting on. The fact that he’s in my kitchen says something in itself. But, when he rang my bell this morning, he introduced himself as Tad Wilkes, my neighbor from across the street—as if I hadn’t seen him around the neighborhood a thousand times—as if he had completely forgotten the time, a couple of summers ago, that I came over for gin and tonics. Granted, it was his girlfriend at the time, Ester that invited me; maybe he just hoped I had forgotten. Together, they had occupied the largest apartment in a six-unit building. It was bright and spacious, but also cozy— rent-controlled, utilities included—the only apparent drawback was that they had to share the ground floor with their land-

lord; he had a small apartment strategically located by the stairs to the laundry room, but knowing Mr. Funka as I do, that’s a small price to pay unless you need something fixed in a hurry. What actually went wrong I never could guess; they seemed perfectly happy. Their break-up must have been very sudden; I never even saw her leave; I only began to suspect that something had happened when I noticed that the front windows by which she liked to do her morning exercises were now always closed and covered. Since that day, I’d only seen Tad in passing and he never had time for more than a few words. I only asked about Ester once and he seemed to ignore the question. Until he showed up this morning, I had given up on being neighborly. Now, as we chat beside the fridge in my kitchen, he acts as if we were friends all along, which is part of why I feel so uneasy. He also holds eye contact for too long. To distract him, I take out the bottle of rum that I keep in the freezer and hand it to him. “Yeah, good idea,” he says. Outside, the seasonal winds are worse than usual; I hear them groan through the exhaust duct over the stove; somewhere nearby, a trash can is blown over.


He goes on to say that he hasn’t been sleeping, and that’s why he might seem a little off. The sound is somehow worse at night, like it were actually trying to compete with the wind as it picks up after dark. When he does manage to get some sleep it is troubled by terrible dreams that he can’t begin to describe, and when he awakes, he feels unbelievably hungry. When I offer to make him a sandwich he eagerly accepts, but the real reason he came by was to ask a big favor. *** We step outside and I feel the coldness pinch my head even with the hood of my sweatshirt pulled up and I regret not pretending to be asleep when Tad arrived. I make him carry my tools as we cross the littered street, but it’s a small consolation. Instead, I decide that the hassle is worth the opportunity just to repeat Tad’s story to my friends at the bar. Mr. Funka was on the news several weeks ago after some deranged street person had somehow got into the building and slashed his own throat in the basement. That much I already knew. I had even seen the troubled vagrant myself, encountering him briefly as he milled dazedly around the neighborhood, ranting some new-agey nonsense about ley-lines or whatever. I had not heard the part about Mr. Funka getting arrested for

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trying to steal twenty cases of frozen chicken wings from a parked delivery truck. That was only a few days ago and he has been M.I.A. ever since, presumably tied up in the legal system. In the meantime, the basement door has been locked and Tad and the other tenants have let their dirty laundry pile up. There wasn’t really a problem until the noise started. Steadily, Tad’s neighbors began to find other places to stay; one couple has moved out entirely. The place seems completely deserted when Tad lets me in. After the door clatters shut, he closes his fist around his keys to silence them and holds a finger in the air. “Listen,” he says. He’s right; it does sound funny, and I laugh. I think of Homer Simpson eating doughnuts in Hell, “Omnomnom…More…Omnomnom,” and I mention it to Tad. His expression remains fixed as if he didn’t even hear me. His silence compels me to listen more closely. I follow the noise past Mr. Funka’s apartment and to the basement stairs. The door stands slightly ajar and there are fresh scuff marks on the jamb. I begin to say something about the door, but Tad brushes past me before I can finish. He begins slowly descending the creaky stairs. If he didn’t still have my tools, I might have just let

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him go, instead I feel obliged to follow. I pause just inside the door to appraise the sound. It sounds vaguely animal, but its monotony suggests something mechanical, like a washing machine out of balance, but how could it go on for days? Tad has also paused to look back up at me and waits for me to take a step before he goes on. At the foot of the stairs is a closed wooden door secured by two heavy padlocks. Off to the left is the dormant laundry area to where I follow Tad. Down here the air is so dank with the smell of wet earth that it catches in my throat, forcing me to cough. Suddenly the sound stops. Before I can read a reaction from Tad, he has pulled a flattened cardboard box away from the wall to our right exposing a large, moldering hole in the drywall. He ducks through without a word or a backward glance. At my feet is an orange extension chord leading down into the dark. I hesitate, thinking about the vagrant. A moment later, I see a bright light come on, then another. “You coming, or what?” For whatever reason, his subtle chastisement is enough to motivate me through the hole. I step down into an unfinished portion

of the basement lit by a pair of work lights. I look around. Apparently this area was intended for storage but now stands nearly empty. In the center of the earthen floor is a massive indentation covered partially by a plastic sheet weighted down with cinderblocks. It looks like someone has been digging, but there are no tools anywhere, and no piles of debris. Tad stands across the room beside one of the work lights. He had apparently crossed using a wide, wooden board spanning the indentation. It seems to be the best place to survey the strange scene so I begin to cross without much thought. He stops me halfway by asking, “What do you make of that?” and directs the light downward. I look down, expecting to see a damaged pipe or something similar, but instead I watch the translucent plastic billow in a sudden gust of stale air as a dark shape recedes beneath it. I am not prepared when Tad suddenly shoves me from the side. I attempt to catch myself on the side but I grab only plastic, tangling myself in it as I drop several feet into the opening onto something other than earth and rock; It is firm, but yielding, like falling into an unmade waterbed, but it is enough to knock


the wind out of me. Almost stunned, I turn my head in time to see one of the cinderblocks slide down the sloping plastic and directly into my unguarded face. Even as the remaining blocks are pulled down around me, and the hole somehow grows deeper, my mind strains to interpret the events as anything but grotesque slapstick. It is not until I feel the surface beneath me begin to pitch and writhe and I hear that insane, inhuman howl that my mind goes black. *** It is the sound of distant screams that bring me back. I awake in near darkness. The plastic crackles close to my ears and inside my mouth is a raw, aching mess. When I spit out the hot blood, I feel the hard pieces of my teeth pass between my fractured lips. With great difficulty and pain I manage to stand and stumble free of the plastic, now ragged and sticky with something dark and repugnant. Again, I am on the surface. The work lights have all been upset and now only one lamp spreads

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

its light in a crude fan across the ground. More of the black mess is pooled around my feet. Judging by the spatter and the horrible pain down my right side, it seems that I was expelled from the pit with great force. Tad is nowhere to be seen. The light stops at the opening in the ground. Barely above the ringing rising in my ears, I can make out a man’s baleful cries echoing out of the blackness. When it suddenly stops, coldness creeps over me and my insides tighten. I collect my tools and leave. *** Several oral surgeries later and still in a shoulder cast, I return to the scene as it is being bulldozed. I question a worker who says that they had to truck in extra fill to stabilize the foundation. As I press him further I ask him if he or any of his buddies were having trouble sleeping or were experiencing excessive hunger; before he walks away he laughs and says, “Who in the hell doesn’t?”

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AUTHOR BIO: Jon Carroll Thomas is an up and coming writer from Pittsburgh, PA. You can read some of his other work at abandonedgraveyard.wordpress.com


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

Under the Full Moon by Steven Santiago My art piece is based on the creature that Lovecraft spoke of in his short story “The Thing in the Moonlight”. http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/tm.asp For some reason that cone faced character is one of my favorites even though we know very little about it. So I wanted to see what it may have looked like in it’s younger days. And who is that holding it up to the moon? A creature that fused a human with an ancient evil perhaps? The image is left to the viewer to make up their own story. www.facebook.com/stevesantiago.artist

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Writing Advice: Power in Brevity by Alison J. McKenzie

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Words have power. Well, they do if they’re used properly. The problem is that many writers are too eager with words. They hoard them, then take them and shove as many as they can fit into a story. It’s a common misconception that long, flowing paragraphs made of complex sentences makes some sort of art. A true writer chooses which words to use with care. Unnecessary words can bog your sentences down. I want to glide through prose, not wade through it. If I have to stop and process what’s being said, I’m being pulled out of the story. Description is a major culprit here. Is description bad? Dear God, no. But if it’s too flowery, or there’s simply too much of it, the characters and plot will get lost in it. A good writer can paint a picture with words. A fantastic writer can do it in twenty words or less. Emphasis words can be worse than bulky description. Words like “some” and “really” almost always detract from a point rather than add to it. Compare: “He has a really vibrant personality that some people find charming” and “He has a vibrant personality that people find charming.” The second

sentence is both cleaner and stronger. Don’t use expensive words when cheap words will do, and don’t use cheap words when none will do. Your story is crafted of sentences, and sentences are built from words. Treat the words with respect. Do it properly. Know what you’re saying. Writing is communication. Don’t lose your reader. Flash Fiction Flash fiction is a great way to practice writing concisely. If you don’t already do it yourself, I recommend it. It’s a wonderful lesson in choosing words, conveying theme and emotion, and portraying characters without over-speaking. Learn to say a lot with only a few words, and your writing will be stronger for it. Short Stories Short stories are the next level up from flash fiction. Short stories have more breathing room than flash fiction, but they still require the writer to take care with each and every word. You still need to convey a compelling story using a limited word count. Study famous short stories in the genre that interests you. Truly talented short story writers can provide ideal


examples for concise writing.

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

Young Adult Novels Well-written young adult novels are a wonderful resource for writers. They’re designed to be gobbled up. You want an example of writing that moves quickly, flows well, and carries you along for the ride; grab yourself a good YA book. Even with the success of series like The Hunger Games and the (debatably YA) Harry Potter books, YA doesn’t get enough credit. Good YA can be fantastic. Don’t discount it as a resource. You can learn a lot from the concise Alison J. McKenzie is our in house advice columnist. yet compelling, simple yet complex, beautiful Check out more words of wisdom at her blog: writingatbooks nestled within the YA section. You just midnight.wordpress.com need to find the right ones. There’s definitely room for the Neal Stephensons of the world. There is no universal “right” way to do things. A long sentence is not necessarily a bad one. But as you write, you should be aware of how approachable your writing is. Remember that someone has to read this. They have to want to read it. Draw them in with strong words and a stronger story. Don’t weigh them down. If you

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Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

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Some Assembly Required by Adam Waxman

Insomnia Press

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I guess I just don’t understand the instructions, Sean spoke hesitantly into the phone. It would be the last words he would ever speak. *** There was nothing particularly unique about the shop where Anna and Sean had stopped on the trip back from the Rhode Island coast. It was one of those small, quiet shops in a quiet, leaf-strewn town. A wooden sign hanging above the door, weathered with age and cracked from exposure to the elements, proclaimed that in graphite letters the store was called “MOAB.” Inside shadows and light played across dusty rows of shelves and the worn wooden counter. At first glance this was another establishment designed to leech blood from the tourists passing through. Upon closer examination the books were titles no one had heard of or could even be recalled upon moving on to other items in the shop. The knickknacks and jewelry were made of strange, lustrous stones and seemed to on occasion shine from their own light. Perusing the wares, Anna selected a small box made from dark smooth wood. Anna turned it over in her small, delicate hands quizzically. Though they could hear

small parts clattering about within, the wizened old man standing behind the counter did not make any comment as to its contents. Still, Sean felt oddly compelled to purchase the thing. As the couple left the store, they could feel the old man’s strange yellow eyes following them out the door. When they got the thing home, they found that there was a catch that concealed an inner compartment. When they opened the thing, all manner of screws, nuts, bolts, and other sundries tumbled out. In addition, a small, folded piece of paper landed on the floor. Anna plucked the yellowish paper from the ground and unfolded it, eager for some clue as to what the box contained. Ah, she thought, these must be instructions for assembling whatever was in the box. Looking at the paper, it seemed simple enough. Indeed, the object seemed to be some sort of lamp. And she had been meaning to find a nice lamp for their bedroom end table! As Sean gazed over her shoulder at the directions, he thought to himself that this would be easy. All they had to do was follow the instructions, and soon they would have a sturdy new tool shelf for the garage!


Eagerly, the two sat down and began to examine the directions. They had some disagreement about where to start, and how many steps there were. Sean seemed to think 36, and Anna 33. Later, Anna was sure there were 37, Sean 55. It didn’t help that the steps were convoluted and not in sequential order. Sean commented that it was like someone who had never written directions before had written the guidelines. Anna rejoined that it seemed that the directions had been translated from some other language, though which she could not discern. Still, they pressed on. Sitting on the floor, they managed to build the base of the thing – thick planks of some exotic wood joined together into a square. Sean could have sworn that he wiped sand off the planks as he pulled them together. He got up and mumbled something to Anna about needing to go wash his hands. Meandering towards the kitchen, the house about him seemed to spin. It was still his house, but he had an odd sense that it should not take this long to get back to the sink. He bent his head down and ran the water, rinsing his hands of the sand from the boards. On the walk back to the front hall, he did not notice the traces of sand and stone on the rug. He rejoined Anna in the front hall, who was

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bent over the thing and trying to work out the next section. Anna was convinced that they had to simply place the screw into the hole on the base and it would set up the next section. As she worked with the tools, the piece just didn’t seem to fit. Looking at the instructions, they were clear. The piece just seemed not to fit. Sean, taking the piece, easily tightened it into place. He reached over and ruffled her hair, smiled at her. Silly girl. She looked down, hiding her eyes. She hated it when he did that. They got back to work. There seem to be an endless amount of pieces – screws, bolts, washers. Little black pieces with sharp edges composed of some strange metal. Bigger, heavy pieces that didn’t seem like they could fit in the box. The directions continued to be opaque and confusing. The small, folded sheet seemed to get bigger and bigger as Anna struggled with it. She spread it out on the wood floor, pushing sand out of the way as it got on the thin paper. As she tried to puzzle through the directions, a sharp gust of wind blew through the hall. You left the damned window open again, she muttered, grasping at the paper as it buckled on the floor.

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Another burst of wind blew through the hall, this time strong enough to lift the paper off the ground and carry it into the dining room. Anna stood, irate, and chased the flittering thing. She glowered at Sean as she went to the other room. Sean wasn’t really paying attention to her. He had been consumed by a desire the finish the thing on the floor, to solve the conundrum of whatever was in the box. As Anna ran off chasing the instructions, he focused on the pieces spread out on the floor. He found it hard to focus on the little bits. Suddenly he was overcome with a heavy thirst. He smacked his lips, his mouth parched and dry. A thick heat seemed to envelop him, pressing down upon him like a blanket. His eyes grew blurry and he dropped the small piece he was fiddling with to the floor. His gaze falling to the ground, Sean saw amidst the strew pieces a small, weathered card. It seemed to be made from the same paper as the instructions. There was a phone number on the card. Taking out his phone, he dialed. In the other room, Anna was laughing. She’d followed the flittering instruc-

tions, which seemed to dance on the wind like some strange insect, out to the front porch with its great bay windows. Grabbing the instructions, it was only then that she saw the stars. Strange, alien stars pulsing in unfamiliar constellations. It was too dark to see anything beyond the windows themselves, but in the sky she could see strange formations unlike any she had ever seen. It was too dark. She settled into a couch on the porch, the first uncontrollable fits of giggles overcoming her. I’m sorry sir, the voice on the other end of the phone said. Moab Corporation cannot accept any refunds or exchanges. Have a nice day. The voice was short, crisp, and had no accent. Sean hung up the phone, the soft laughter of Anna playing in his ears. He picked up a jagged piece and began to fiddle with it. Carelessly, he scraped it across his thumb cutting himself on the sharp edge. He watched dully as a few droplets of red blood splashed across the base of the thing. His blood mingled with the black rock, running into the rivulets on the sur-


face of the stone. He held tight to the jagged piece, his head swimming. Suddenly, a flash. Sean could feel warm sand under his toes. His sandaled toes. His senses were assaulted from all sides with an alien scene. He could see what appeared to be a camp laid in a desert valley, lit by starlight, bonfires, and torches. The stars were unlike any constellation he had ever seen. The camp was composed of crude tents roughly constructed of animal hide and bronze-tipped wooden poles. Banners throughout the camp had strange pictograms painted upon them. Bronzed-skinned men, women, and children dressed in sackcloth ran about him, in a state of terror-stricken alert. In the distance there were shouts in a strangely familiar yet unknown language. Men circled the camp on horseback, small horses that were exotic to Sean. Some of the men held spears tipped with what Sean could only assume were bronze. Others were armed with bow and arrow, still others what appeared to be vicious pruning hooks and other farming implements converted for war. Ignoring the cries of the encampment, the armed men charged in an orgy of blood and slaughter. The encampment mounted a feeble

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

defense. Around him men, women, and children fell, their blood soaking the sand. As the attack reached a frenzied pitch, Sean was struck by some kind of stone cudgel, and fell back onto the hot, wet sand. Shaking his head as if to clear water from his ears, Sean slid the blood-slicked piece into place, completing the thing. As he sagged back, Anna’s mad laughter in his ears, his eyes focused on the weird little idol that now sat, completed, on the floor of his home. His eyes drooping shut, he allowed the darkness to overcome him. Somewhere on the porch, the instructions danced in the warm wind. AUTHOR BIO:

Adam Waxman lives and writes in Durham, North Carolina.

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Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

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The Chameleon by Daniel W. Gonzales

Insomnia Press

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I look into the mirror and wonder who I am glass through the dark shadows of my soul. this time. Scrapping, they want back out. They want to be the dominant host again. It takes everyThe skin is always different but inside, inthing I have to fight them and lately I have side remains the same. I used to be able to been changing without my permission. They change faces at will but as time goes on, take over my body while I am asleep, locked it gets harder. I have to have some sort of somewhere deep in my subconscious and are emotional connection to the host and if I able to morph again. can form it, then I can take their face. When you become someone else it’s important that This is a painful process, imagine what a lyyou do it completely, you have to steal evcanthrope goes through, there is a shifting ery memory, every thought, even the seemof bones, a tearing of skin and a deep burningly insignificant ones in case you need ing in my blood like my entire body has been them later. There will always be questions, set aflame. Please don’t ask me who I was you will run into people the host knows, it originally, that person isn’t of interest to always happens. Then there is the problem me anymore. He was a loser, a joke. A poor of missing person reports or if they find fuck born into trailer park trash whose the body and you are a double wearing the parents kept him unwashed and unfed for face of a dead man, that is always awkward. days locked in a closet until the child welSo then you have to steal another body and fare people came to take him away. A sad basanother. Soon you are driving cross countard who was molested by his adoptive fatry and changing skins every town until ther and attempted suicide at twelve. Jonah you are a no one, a nobody, a homeless man. was weak, that’s why I destroyed him. But when I steal the skin, I also get the ailments, bad leg, bum liver and even diabe“Why do you think you can change bodies, tes. I am an exact duplicate of that person Jonah?” Dr. Shelton says, startling me out cell by cell. Yet lately I have been haunted of my interior monologue. by the memories of my former selves. I can feel them in my head, cutting like jagged “I can,” I tell him, “I can be whoever I want,


whenever I want.”

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I start tearing at my skin, pulling it from my face and before I know it there is a pile on the floor next to me and I have a new face.

“Prove it,” he says and stares right at me with his smug face. In his sanctimonious smile I can see thousands An orderly bursts into the room. of acres of green pastures with wheat stalks blowing in the wind. Not a care in the god“Dr. Shelton?” she says. damn world. He is an infinite mouth of serpents writhing. I smile and get up off the ground. “It doesn’t work like that,” I tell him, “I have to be connected to my host emotionally. I have to feel something for them whether it is love or hate.” He smiles as if having proved his point. “I think we need to increase your medication.” He clicks his pen and tells the nurse to take me back to my room. That night I try to picture the doctor in my mind, imagine his face, his body, the way his fingers move, the clicking of the pen. I am awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of my own screams. I can feel my bones shifting. The skin on my face is peeling. I am becoming someone else.

“The patient has escaped and changed clothes with me! We must find him! Take me to my office, I want to get changed.” I know that Dr. Shelton always keeps an extra pair of his clothes in his office. She opens the door for me and I go inside to change. How was I able to change into him when we never touched? Then I remember, the session before last, Dr. Shelton gave me a pad of paper and several color markers and told me to draw some of my previous identities along with their names. He touched the marker and then handed it to me. A single skin cell must have been transferred over, the touch of a fingerprint, a microscopic memory that my body absorbed and filed away

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for a later date.

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I look at the photograph on the desk of Dr. Shelton’s wife and son. I feel the memories begin to flood my brain. Jonathan’s birth. He calls his wife “Pooki” and his favorite book is Naked Lunch. So much to remember, so much go absorb. I remember a pair of spare keys he/I left in our desk. I take them, stab the orderly and leave. AUTHOR BIO: Daniel W. Gonzales writes about things bizarre, disturbing, and downright strange. He runs the monthly fiction magazine The Surreal Grotesque. www.surrealgrotesque.com


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

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The Line by Nathan Wunner

Insomnia Press

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Pressing tightly against me are putrid, stinking mounds of human flesh; bodies piled on top of each other so tightly that moving ones arms or taking a deep breath is an impossible strain. Pale light seeps in from yellowed windows caked in layers of grime. The air is oppressive; smelling of rust and sweat. Thousands of shuffling feet slowly march across concrete thick with layers of human filth and shallow pools of urine. We move with the speed of a grazing herd of cattle; funneled forward by cords of rope which form a winding maze throughout the length of the warehouse; the purpose of which is to deliver us all, neatly and orderly, to the end of the line.

feel uncomfortable and considered turning around and leaving, but when I looked back I saw that there was now such a crowd behind me that I couldn’t even see the door through which I’d entered. So I stood quietly, thinking to myself, “surely they won’t keep us waiting much longer.” I actually began to feel embarrassed at my nervousness; everyone else’s eyes were still trained forward towards the curtain. I seemed to be the only one entertaining thoughts of leaving.

Time wore on. The close proximity of such a large number of people coupled with the sun bearing down overhead made the room nauseatingly warm. I felt a terrible thirst, I remember being lost on my way to the city and the stench of filth was overwhelmwhen I saw the line forming around the out- ing. We crept forward so slowly I began to side of a warehouse. I didn’t know what the wonder if the line was actually moving at line was for, nor did the other individuals all, or if I’d merely been shuffling my feet. I whom I asked. Still, the sheer number of could wait here no longer. I tried to force people and the buzz of excitement in the air my way back through the crowd, but more was enough to pique my curiosity. and more people were filing in by the second; all of them pushing forward impatientOnce inside, however, all that awaited us ly. Leaving was impossible. Hard as I pushed, was a winding rope maze which terminated they pushed back harder, struggling to in an imposing black curtain at the far end reach that curtain, never mind that there of the building. As time passed I began to was no more space to accommodate them.


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ly I rounded the last corner in the maze. That I saw one woman, eyes wide with panic. She black curtain stood before me, stretching all climbed over the shoulders of the people the way up into the ceiling. I could hear the around her in a desperate attempt to escape. crowd whisper; people speculating as to what I thought she might make it, but then she lost might lie beyond. I became worried, and agitather footing, and was swallowed up by the ed, as it seemed that not one of them had any crowd. Before anyone could help her the crowd idea what was at the end of the line. Had they surged forward again, anxious to fill the space waited all this time without knowing what she’d vacated. I wish I could say that her death they were waiting for? was sudden, but her cries went on and on for what seemed an eternity. She wailed like a dying In front of the curtain stood a pale man, wearanimal as her bones were crushed under their ing same sweat stained clothes and exhausted feet. I remember the looks on the faces of the expression as the rest of us. One person was alones standing directly over her. They struglowed past the curtain at a time; and as it partgled to lift their arms, to move their feet and ed we all craned our necks, eager for a glimpse. squirm free. They failed. My turn came. The pale man beckoned me forI began to wonder why we all just didn’t leave ward, pulled the curtain back ever so slowly. this place together. Nothing could be worth Inside I could see nothing but darkness, and I this, could it? Still, for every pair of eyes that hesitated. The man shoved me forward and then looked panicked, still more were eager desper- closed the curtain behind me. ate for a glimpse behind that curtain. I wanted to cut the ropes digging into my side and cry The darkness was oppressive. I reached my hands out at everyone to just leave. I wanted to force out in front of me in an effort to find somethe suffocating mass back; but the weight of thing to grab ahold of. “Hello!” I shouted. I them was too great, and fear of being trampled thought that perhaps someone had turned off kept me moving forward. the lights accidentally, and decided to wait for the curtain to open again and then ask the I don’t know how much time passed, but finalman to turn them back on. I waited several min-

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utes, but the curtain never opened.

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I panicked, groping about blindly for a wall where I might find a light switch or an exit. Nothing. Frustrated, I turned and ran back towards the curtain, but despite the fact that it should have been only a few feet behind me, I found myself running through a vast, empty space. Hours passed. My mind, deprived of any stimulus, began to etch strange shapes in the void. I saw outlines of vaguely human forms darting past me, just at the edges of my sight. A terrifying thought occurred to me; that I might not actually be alone here. I imagined throngs of people, just out of arms reach, laughing and smiling wickedly as I wandered lost in the abyss. “Help me!� I yelled. Nothing. Was it all just in my mind? Empty thoughts, drifting in the abyss, dreaming of things that never were? Maybe nothing is all there ever was.

AUTHOR BIO: Nathan Wunner has been writing stories most of his life, but only recently decided to pursue a career in it. He dabbles in everything from pulp to sci-fi, but his main interest is horror.


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

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The Mother of the Wood by Colin Timothy Gagnon

Insomnia Press

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I whistled and clapped my hands. Nothing. I tried shouting, “come on, Layla! Come Layla! Layla!” That didn’t help, either. Darren and Amber were dog breeders, and I’d agreed, once again, to look after their dogs while they went on vacation. This happened at least once every summer, and I was usually eager for the opportunity to escape from the city. I’d take some vacation hours of my own, pack up a few days worth of necessities, and head thirty miles southeast to their farm where I could play my guitar, work on my writing, catch up on reading, and just generally relax. The dogs were happy to be ignored as long as they were getting fed, and there was a human presence in the house. But today was not going as planned. I’d decided to walk the trail behind the house, which separated the neighbor’s corn and soybean fields, and I took one of the dogs with me--a toy fox terrier named Layla who especially liked me. We usually went on at least one walk together, partly for that reason, and partly because she was a smart, dependable dog who didn’t need to be kept on a leash.

But this afternoon things had gone wrong. We had taken the well-beaten fork in the trail that led out of the fields and into a grove of trees. Some small animal that I hadn’t seen had set Layla off, and she had gone tearing through the underbrush in search of whatever it was. I lost her almost immediately, so I made my way generally in the direction she had gone, and when I gave up on finding her that way, I tried to reconnect with the path. I didn’t find it though, and now I had come to the edge of a small pond which I had never seen before. I stood and looked into the brown water, and tried to decide what to do. If I could find the path, I could return to the house, and Layla might well already have found her way back. On the other hand, if she’d managed to get into the cornfield, she might be totally disoriented when she came out. I was weighing my options and walking around the pond when I heard a faint growl. It was Layla, and she was heading this way. I waited, and as the growl got louder, I could see an agitation in the grass ahead of me. Then she ran back into the trees, so I followed and caught sight of her just as she stopped.


I like dogs, but I don’t own one. If I had, I would have known immediately that her snarling attack stance wasn’t directed at her quarry. Her legs canted back slightly, and her head pointed straight ahead, and I was squinting so intently to see where the animal had gone that I actually cried out and lost my balance when I saw the man leaning against the tree up ahead. Or was it a man? The dark, squat form disappeared as I stood, like a trick of the shadows. Layla was still snarling, though, so I shouted a hello. No answer came. I picked up the dog who noticed me at last and began quickly to make my way, with many self-conscious glances over my shoulder, back to the pond. I sat down, Layla beside me, and kept my hand on her back. I was disconcerted by what I thought I’d seen. Hadn’t there been someone back there? If not, what had Layla been chasing? It was a bright, sunny day, but I hadn’t been able to distinguish the form’s features in the shadows beneath the thick awning of leaves. The half-glimpsed figure must have been a tangle of trees, nothing more. So I rested, taking a nervous look around every few moments, and after a little while I got up had headed back in the direction of the farm. I had a vague idea of where I was, and I carried Layla in my arms because I didn’t want

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her to run off again. She seemed content to be carried, but every few moments her head would whip around in one direction or another, as if she were tracking something that was darting around in the bushes. She started a low growl, and I began to tense. But we were alone. The normal sounds of a forest began to grate on my nerves, and I almost dropped Layla when the goat wandered into view. It was mostly black with white on its face and chest, and it stopped moving when it caught sight of us. We stopped, too, and Layla’s long, low growl turned into savage barking. I pressed her tight to my chest and tried to clamp her mouth shut, but she wouldn’t be quiet. The goat didn’t seem to mind. It simply stood and looked with those big, yellow, hourglass eyes, and after a few moments it came closer. Layla was squealing now, writhing, and trying to get down. I kept my hands clamped over her, as the goat looked us up and down, then walked on past me. I turned and watched it disappear into the leaves, and Layla resumed her barking. Finally, we walked on. We weren’t passing any familiar landmarks, and I was beginning to worry. I considered trying to find the pond again, but I’m no novice at navigating; I knew that I was walking north, in the direction of the farm. We should, at the

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very least, have met up with the road by now. I put Layla down, and we kept walking until the trees broke, but instead of coming out by the road or one of the familiar farms of the neighborhood, we stepped into a clearing in front of a small, wooden building. I could see that it had been painted white at one time, but weather had stripped the outside walls to a dead, gray color. There was no driveway, no cars, and no power lines ran to the place. It was far too large to be a hunting blind, and far too intact to be a forgotten outbuilding. The windows were clean. I decided it looked more like a house than anything else. Layla didn’t growl, but she wouldn’t step toward the place either, so I picked her up again, walked through the tall grass to the door, and knocked. A small wood stove sat a few feet away with fire raging, and the heat bothered us both. It didn’t take long for the door to open, and the woman who stood there was elderly, stooped, and wearing a maroon dress and a brown shawl. She was at least a head shorter than I was and quite thin, and she peered up at me through a pair of glasses with wide, black, octagonal lenses. They

must have been completely opaque, and I decided she wasn’t staring at me after all. She was blind. Layla settled into my arms, shaking slightly. “Yes?” the woman said, warily. “Hi,” I said. “I’m keeping an eye on my friends’ house while they’re on vacation this week. I’m not from around here, and I got lost in the woods. Can you point me in the direction of the highway?” She took a long time answering, and worked her jaws up and down a couple of times before she spoke. “There’s no road runs through here.” “I’m looking for highway M,” I said, “or North Cheshire Road.” “What do you want to watch a house for?” she asked. “They’re dog breeders, so they need someone to look after all the dogs.” “Dogs can look after themselves,” she said. Her tone of voice wasn’t friendly. “That bitch you’re holding looks a mite fat.” Okay, so she wasn’t blind. The woman put her hand out to Layla, who snarled and snapped at her. The woman laughed and disappeared into the house for the briefest of moments, returning with a small scrap of raw meat, which she dangled in front


of Layla’s nose. Layla sniffed and gobbled the meat, and the woman held out another piece, which she took as well. “Why don’t you two come in for a minute,” the woman said, gesturing for us to enter the house. So I went inside, and she shut the door behind us. The house had only one room, and it was cramped but sparsely furnished. There was a bed and a dresser, a basin, and a rustic table with one chair. Various cooking implements hung from the walls. A faded, but formerly colorful rug lay in the center of the floor, and the corners were filthy with dust. A heap of some unidentifiable red meat lay on a cutting board on the table. “You can put the bitch down,” she said. “Would you like some tea?” I’m exclusively a coffee man, but I was uncomfortable and worried about offending, so I said that I would, and I took the chair that was offered to me. She picked a cup off a hook on wall and placed it in front of me. Then she hobbled over to the windowsill, picked up a china teapot and a strainer, returned, and poured. The strainer caught a few small bits that looked to me like tiny fragments of twigs. She took it to the

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

door and tossed its contents into the yard, then returned the teapot and strainer to the windowsill. I took a sip of my tea, which tasted very much like dirt. She smiled at me, so I nodded and complimented the tea. Layla had run around the room sniffing at everything, and now she was trying to get up on the table to eat the meat. The woman laughed, picked up another small morsel, and fed it to the dog. “What kind of meat is that?” I asked. “Mutton,” she said. “Goat?” I asked her, thinking of the earlier encounter. “No,” the woman snorted. “Mutton. Sheep.” I slid a little further away from the cutting board, and took another small sip of the tea. It didn’t taste dangerous, but it didn’t taste good, either. The woman knelt down on the floor and called to Layla, who timidly approached to take another scrap of meat. She cooed softly to the dog, and petted her, and fed her more, and soon she was able to scoop Layla up in her arms. Layla climbed all over her and licked her face. “So anyway,” I said, “which way is the nearest road? I know you said no road runs through here, but if I wanted to find the road, which way would I go?”

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The woman continued to play with Layla for awhile before finally saying, “don’t know. You in a hurry?” “Well, no, but I need to get back to the farm to feed the dogs.” “Dogs can take care of themselves,” she said. Then, to Layla, “you’re a good little bitch. Yes you are. Yes. Do you want some more lamby-pie?” She picked up another small shred of meat, and held it teasingly above Layla’s head. Layla leaped up, knocking off the dark glasses. The woman’s gaze met mine, and her eyes were the yellow, narrow-pupiled eyes of a goat. Suddenly I didn’t want any more tea. “That’s all right,” she laughed, and bent down to pick up the glasses. Layla jumped down to the floor, and stood waiting in front of the woman, but as soon as the woman turned those eyes to her, she began to bark. I picked Layla up. The woman replaced her glasses. “I’m sorry, we really ought to get back to the farm,” I said. The old woman protested, but I made no attempt to process what she said. I thanked her several times for the tea, shut the door behind me, and start-

ed walking swiftly north. I found a path at the edge of the yard which pointed in the right direction, so I took it. Soon things began to look familiar, and I realized that I was on the familiar trail that I’d walked so many times before. I put Layla down, and she trotted along beside me as I walked. It didn’t make sense; I knew all the forks of the old path, and it had never taken me to the pond or to the old woman’s house before. Yet the unfamiliar part of the forest soon opened into a place that I had explored long ago. By the time I got back to the farm, the light was starting to fade. The dogs were in the fenced yard out back where I had left them, and it took me several minutes to round them all up and kennel each one. Then I prepared their evening meal, which they gobbled ravenously. I let them all back outside, turned on the porch light, and sat in the swinging chair with my guitar, noodling with a melody that I’d been working on. I’d been at it for about half an hour when all the dogs started barking at once. This was not unusual; any cyclist or jogger or a piece of slow-moving farm equipment would set them off, so I ignored them for a


couple of minutes. They didn’t stop, though, so I went around to the side of the house to see what was going on. The dogs were clustered, jumping and barking at the far side of the fence where stood the black goat that Layla and I had seen earlier. I don’t think it saw me. I ran back to the porch and into the house, flung open the back door and called the dogs inside, but they paid me no attention until I went outside. The goat was bleating, and jumping against the fence with its front hooves. I went back in, closed the door, and looked out the kitchen window. The goat was gone, so I checked the other windows, and saw it ambling its way around the house. The front yard was also fenced, and I watched the goat unlatch the gate with its nose, and come down the front walk. I knew that the knot in my stomach was irrational, but something made me lock the front door. The goat stepped gingerly up onto the front porch, scratched at the door with its hooves and horns, and bleated. This set the dogs off again, and I went to lock the other two doors on the first floor of the house. When I came back to the living room, the goat was standing on its hind legs, bleating at the picture window. It knocked its horns lightly against the glass several times, so I shut the curtains. The dogs were still barking, and sev-

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

eral times I managed to shut them up, only to have them bark again when the noise sounded from outside. Eventually things quieted down, and I peeked out a window. The goat was still there, just standing, staring at the door. By now it was actually quite dark, and I was worried. The dogs were used to staying outside most of the time in summer, and they’d need to go out at least once more before lights out. I let them run free while I made a late dinner. Every once in awhile I looked out the window to verify that the goat was still there. It was, and it wasn’t moving. The goat’s presence made me extremely uncomfortable, but I felt that I was probably safe as long as I stayed in the house. I turned on the television and tried to take my mind off things, which didn’t work but gave me a way to pass the time. By ten o’clock I decided that the dogs couldn’t wait any longer. The goat was still out there, yellow under the porch light. I picked up a hefty flashlight, armed myself with a butcher knife, and went out into the backyard with the dogs. It was a warm night. I turned on the flashlight and played it over the dogs, then over the corners of the house to see if the goat had followed the noise. Nothing. I waited a few min-

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utes, and just as I was about the round the dogs up to head back in, a commotion near the house attracted my attention. I flashed my light in that direction, and saw the old woman, bent down low. She was feeding the dogs through the fence. They were barking and jostling to get to her, and the noise attracted the dogs from the other parts of the yard. “No!” I shouted, as I ran to open the back door. “No! In the house! Get in the house!” The dogs were reluctant, and it took a fair amount of shouting to get them all inside. The woman hobbled up to the corner of the house, near the door where the fence started. “Go away from here,” I said, holding up the knife. “Please, I was just feeding the dogs,” she said. “Leave us alone.” “I’ve brought some meat for the dogs,” she said, gesturing to a burlap sack she held. It was caked with blood. “What is that?” “Mutton,” she said, “same as before. It won’t hurt them.” “I’m going inside,” I said, “and if you don’t leave, I’m going to call the police. We don’t

want you here, and you’re trespassing.” “I just want to see the dogs,” said the woman. “Please let me in. I could cook you a fine meal from this lamb.” “Leave,” I said, and went inside and set the knife down on the counter. “Sir,” called the woman from outside, and the dogs exploded into noise. “Please let me in. I just want to say hello to the dogs.” I decided to call the police. I went up to one of the second floor bedrooms to escape the noise, and dialed 9-1-1. “Hello,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “Hi,” I said. “I’m house-sitting for some friends. The address--” “I know who you are,” said the voice. “Did you call the wrong number?” “This isn’t 9-1-1?” I asked. “No, it’s Darren! Why are you calling 9-1-1?” “I’m sorry,” I said. “I was going to call the police and then you. I must have hit your name somehow.” “No biggie,” said Darren. “What’s going on?” “There’s an old woman outside,” I said. “Layla and I met her in the woods when we


were taking a walk, and now she won’t leave us alone.” “Yeah, I know who that is. Listen, she’s harmless. You should invite her in.” “Are you sure?” “She just likes to play with the dogs. Anyway, I’m busy, I’m gonna let you go.” I started to say something, but Darren had already hung up. I looked at my phone, just as the words “Last call: 911. Call duration: 0:49” flashed off the screen. And now I was starting to become really frightened. I tried the house phone, and was unsurprised to find that it was dead. I looked out one of the windows, and saw that the woman was in the front yard now. She was moving, but I couldn’t tell what she was doing, and things-snakes, maybe--were moving around her. Her head shot up to look at my window. She had removed her glasses, and her eyes glowed with a faint, orange luminescence. I jumped back from the window and went downstairs to check on the howling, snarling dogs. They were all agitated, and the ones who had been fed at the fence earlier were pawing frantically at the bottom edge of the door where a thin, dark root forced its way in and began to snake around the kitchen floor. The dogs went crazy as more roots burst their way

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

through. These were the forms I’d seen writhing around the yard moments earlier. One of the roots twisted around my ankle, and up my leg, but I hacked it at the floor with the butcher knife. The severed tip stopped moving, but the roots were too numerous. They twisted around my arms and neck, wrapped around my torso and my ankles, and as I chopped anxiously, I realized that the detached sections were turning very slowly into a putrid, viscous mush which smelled vaguely of earth and rotting meat. And now some of the dogs were upon me, tearing and biting. I had been on my hands and knees, and I dropped the knife as I stood up. The roots were coming back, and the dogs did not stop their attack, so I kicked my way through them, and threw off the ones that climbed on my back. Most of the dogs were small--toy poodles and toy fox terriers, but the two English shepherds made it slow, painful going, and I was still trying not to hurt any of them. The door to the stairway was always kept propped open. I kicked the doorstop out of the way, and closed the door on one of the shepherds who yelped and let go long enough for me to wrench the door shut, falling down as I did so. Layla had gotten up the stairs ahead of me, and now she was bearing down on my head, biting and digging with her claws. I reached be-

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hind me and clenched my fist on the scruff of her neck, scrambled up the stairs and locked her in a bedroom. Downstairs, the dogs were scratching at the door. The roots shot through and began feeling their way up the stairs, as more crawled out of the room where I’d thrown Layla. I shut myself in the master bedroom, and sat on the bed until the searching roots forced their way in. I heard a tap at the window and looked up. An owl was beating its wings against the screen, and it, too, had the eyes of a goat. The roots found me, and began to twist around my arms and legs. I grabbed for the sewing kit beside the bed, and cut as many of the roots as I could with the scissors, but there were too many of them. “Stop,” said the woman’s voice inside my head, “come to me, join my children.” I opened the window and lunged with the scissors at the owl, but I was too tightly wrapped to catch it. It flew in, perched on a chair, and began to change. Feathers fell to the floor. Bones and beak cracked. The thing contorted and shriveled and burned, and then the old woman stood before me. She began to speak, but I charged for the window, and flung myself out. The

roots dragged against the window frame, and suspended me above the front porch. I squirmed and bit and tore until I dropped to the roof of the porch, and shimmied down to the ground. The yard was alive. The grass was swaying like millions of tiny tentacles, the trees were moving as if in a strong wind. I sprinted across the yard to my car as roots sprouted from all directions and tried to drag me down, but I managed to get in and get it started. I stepped on the gas and felt the roots snapping as the car lurched forward. I turned in a wide arc until I was pointed at the road. Ahead of me, a healthy black walnut tree lifted itself and attempted stiffly to walk, but came crashing to the ground, bringing power lines with it. I watched as a piece of broken, black cable hissed and popped and convulsed in the driveway under its own electrical fury like an angry snake. Dangerous, but I could avoid the sparking end if I drove across the yard. A drainage ditch yawned wide and deep between the yard and the road, but I could clear it if I crossed at the northwest corner of the property. I stomped on the gas, aimed my car, drove across the garden, over the downed power lines, and into the


road, where cornstalks and grapevines, and weeds were beginning to congregate. Again, I stomped the gas pedal, and plowed through them. I drove a couple of miles down Cheshire Road, and turned right at the next intersection, heading toward town. The hostile plants ended shortly beyond the edge of Darren and Amber’s property. Steffan’s Lake was quiet at this time of night. Even the gas stations had closed. I parked and sat for a long time, trying to decide what to do. I considered making a pay-at-the-pump gas purchase and torching as much of the farm as I could, but I didn’t have a suitable container, and anyway, I realized that my wallet was at the farm in my rucksack. Ultimately, I decided to drive back. I wouldn’t stop, I’d just drive by and decide how to proceed. The road was clear as I approached the farm, save for a couple of uprooted cornstalks and some smashed tomatoes and summer squash. I slowed down to survey the damage. Things were quiet, and there hadn’t been any more damage in the yard. I drove on and spent the rest of the night cruising down country roads, thinking about what had happened. By five o’clock, the sun was rising, and I decided to make my way back. The farm was as I had left it, but I recognized Darren and Amber’s

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

car crashed against the tree that had stumbled at me a few hours ago. I turned cautiously into the driveway and stopped. I climbed into back, released the latch that locked the seat in place, and pulled a box cutter and a tire iron out of the trunk. They weren’t much, but it seemed wise to arm myself. I walked up the front steps and onto the porch, which looked the same as always. The front door was still locked, and my fumbling with the knob set the dogs off. No roots emerged from around the frame. “Hey!” called Darren’s voice. “Good to see ya!” I turned around. Darren and Amber were walking toward me, from the direction of the trail. “What are you two doing home?” I asked. “You seemed pretty frantic last night,” said Darren. “And we missed the dogs,” said Amber. They both had fragments of root twined around their limbs and necks. “I have to go,” I said. “No,” said Darren, stepping onto the porch. “She needs you to stay here” Their eyes had changed. “Don’t come near me,” I said, brandishing the tire iron.

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“No,” said Darren, “you’re staying.” I tried to push past them but little Layla came bounding out of nowhere, and sunk her teeth deep into my leg. Darren and Amber fell on me, and I dropped the box cutter as Darren bit into my arm. They forced me down and my head struck the floor as he tore out a mouthful of flesh. “She is our Mother,” said Amber. “She is Mother to everything here.” “Don’t fight Her,” said Darren. “What is she?” I asked. “She is here,” said Amber. I struggled as I heard a hissing sound somewhere outside of my field of vision, and we were wrapped in a pale, yellow-veined fog. I closed my eyes and held my breath for as long as I could. A goat bleated, and I gasped in a lungful of air. I opened my eyes and the old woman was leaning over me. I tried to stand, but Amber opened her mouth, and a tangle of roots shot out. Darren did the same, and I was ensnared. “Why do you fight it?” asked the woman, her voice came from inside my head as her eyes bored into mine. “In the end, all things return to their origin. I will give you something better than a pedestrian death, bet-

ter than a return to salt and soil.” “No,” “If you will not join me willingly, I will take you, and you will understand.” “All right,” I said, tightening my grip on the tire iron. “I will join you.” “You can’t trick me. If you attack your friends, there may be a lot of blood and a lot of pain, but you are mine now. You will not leave.” “I got away from you last night.” “I let you go last night,” she said. “I brought your friends back to convince you. This will be easier if you give yourself willingly.” I lurched upward with the tire iron, but the roots held tight. “Very well,” said the voice, and the roots enveloped me. Twisting, burning tendrils pried me open, winding their icy way through me to extremities I couldn’t name. And in a few hours, I was on my way back home again. I apologized to Darren and Amber, but they said it was fine, because now we all understood. They helped me to round up my belongings. I said my goodbyes, and started down the highway back to the city. Layla dozed on my lap. Darren and Amber had suggested that I take her with me, since


she liked me so much and I didn’t have any pets. But she wasn’t mine. She belongs--we belong--to the Mother of the Wood.

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

AUTHOR BIO: Colin Timothy Gagnon is a composer, freelance writer, and bona fide government stooge. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his gorgeous wife, and the general consensus is that he’s kind of a jerk.

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The Passion of the Son of Man by Lars Backstrom

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I lie still on my back, feeling the sticky wetness of the grass through my clothes. The air stinks of blood. The only sounds are the distant crashing of water and a lonely mournful ululation, which echoes between the sea and the sky. The sky, it has... changed. It looks like a sea covered in oil, with the stars like multicolored snowflakes heaving in the swell. A red moon stares down on the world. A tower rises from the ocean. It looms over me, its foundation hidden behind the horizon. Water glistens red in the reflected moonlight as it cascades down its sides and an enormous beast crouches on its uppermost pinnacle. It is the beast that is howling. It might sit for a thousand years or it might start moving in the next moment - time means nothing to its kind, but I know that it will crawl down the ragged sides of the tower to avenge its only begotten son. I stagger up to stumble among the bodies and slip on the grass towards the crest of the knoll, where He still hangs tied between the menhirs. I am totally alone here; everyone else is dead or has fled. I kneel beneath His body. After a while I reach up and touch His greatest wound, the one in his side. I lick His blood from my fingers. Feel-

ing stronger, I walk down the hill and into the world to tell His story, before it is too late. This is His story as I learnt it from the chitterings inside sorcerer’s tombs and as He revealed it to us, His most devoted disciples. He was born here, in Innsmouth. Not in the old Innsmouth of the Marshes, Waites, and Gilmans, but in the new town which grew up on top of the ruins of the old town. The old Innsmouth never recovered from the police raids and the naval bombardment of Devil’s Reef in the late 1920s. Only a few hardy inhabitants tried to eke out a living there, but they soon gave up and left. Even though hardly anyone new the secrets of the brooding ruins, the place was shunned. Occasionally a lone adventurer would dare enter the ruins, most often they would return with nothing to tell, but ever so often they would not return. A missing person report would be written and then forgotten. After several decades, even a bad reputation such as Innsmouth’s fades, and developers started seeing prime seaside property being wasted. Fairy tales could, and should, not stop progress. No one heeded the warn-


ings croaked from half-crazed old professors emeriti at the Miskatonic University or whispered from dark cells in the closed ward at the Arkham Asylum. The ruins were razed and soon shiny new apartment complexes rested side by side with the waterfront villas of the wealthy. Yachts and deep-sea fishing ships competed for space in the many marinas, and weekend sailors socialized in ritzy clubhouses. An oak can look solid and healthy on the outside, but it can have a rot slowly eating it up from its core. Some inhabitants started hearing whispers from secluded docks, from cellars, or from shaded backyards. Some inhabitants listened to these whispers revealing secrets and making promises, and soon blasphemous pacts were concluded behind the drawn curtains of respectable residences in the new shiny Innsmouth. Derelict and tired ships of odd design and lying deep in the water started appearing in the marinas, snuggling close to yachts of the latest models and strange soulless chants rising from unknown crypts beneath churches that should have closed for the night. After all, nothing had been forgotten in the caverns beneath Devil’s Reef and the ancient rites had continued uninterrupted in the dank cellars beneath new Innsmouth.

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Inevitably, some persons would start asking questions. On occasion these meddlers would stumble on some information. Then they would disappear. The police learnt to label these disappearances “accidental drownings”, and the inhabitants understood that it was best not to be curious. One day, a young man whom no one had ever seen before left one of the churches. Without looking back he went out into the world outside of the town. He was looking for a wife, an innocent woman who would not ask questions and was alone in the world. When he returned he brought with him such a woman. They married in a simple service and settled down in the town. Shortly after the wedding she started complaining about nightmares. Nightmares of drowning and darkness and of titanic echoing halls with walls coated with putrid slime. She spoke of vivid dreams of rituals that were so terrifying that she wouldn’t recall them in detail. Against the wishes of her husband she sought medical help. The doctor asked her questions and tested her, but could not find anything wrong with her, instead he discovered that she was pregnant. ‘Of course,’ said the husband. ‘That is what ails her. She needs rest and care at home,’ and took her back to their

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house. When it was time she gave birth to a strong and healthy boy. This pleased the man, and he showed all the signs of the caring husband and father. The child grew. Even though the woman devoted herself to the care of her son her nightmares never really subsided, and her mind deteriorated. She turned to the Christian god for solace. The husband found that amusing, and allowed her. She prayed fervently begging her god for mercy, to relieve her from her visions. Her prayers caused her husband great mirth and they were, of course, not answered. The growing boy, inspired by his mother, became as devout, in his own childish way, as she. One Sunday, when the boy was about the age other children start school, the man stopped them as they were leaving for church. He simply told the woman that it was time for the boy to be introduced to his heritage. That ‘he was past this childish nonsense of church’, in fact, she would have nothing to do with his upbringing at all from now on. Shocked, the mother refused to obey him and the boy clung her, uncomprehending and afraid. The man tried to tear the boy from his mother, but they

clung to each other. They fled before him and tried to hide in the cellar. The man followed them and ordered the boy to abandon the mother, telling him that ‘she was not important’. When the boy refused, the man tore off his clothes tried to show the boy what awaited him and revealed the changes ravaging his body. The woman’s mind snapped with the horror. She grabbed the first weapon she could find. Blinded by his despise the man advanced on them, but, the woman’s unexpected attack felled him. She battered his dead body long after she had killed him. That night, the mother and the boy slipped away unseen from Innsmouth. Everything had happened as the ancient prophecies had foretold. Days later, and a long way from Innsmouth, a parson found the bedraggled pair by the roadside, the deranged woman clutching the crying boy in her arms. He took pity on them and made them wards of his church. The boy got his first schooling in the church. He showed himself to be a bright and eager pupil. As an experiment, the parson let him teach the other children divinity at Sunday school.


Such was his passion, his knowledge, his understanding that they flocked to him. Only he and his mother knew of what they thought was his taint. He fasted and prayed to cleanse himself. He begged God for guidance. He carried out charitable work, and there were even rumors of miracles, which he denied which unexpected fervor. His success with the children led the parson, who was by now an old and frail man, to let him handle more and more of the church’s activities, even though he was by now only a very young man. It was at this time that I joined his circle. I was a loser, a loner, a good for nothing, and a nobody. He saw me, took pity on me and asked me to come to his church. Normally I would just have said fuck off, but such was his presence that I followed him. After listening to his first sermon I belonged to him. He inspired in me a longing for a better world. Little at the time did we understand the true meaning of his words. Even though he tried to forget his heritage he was not forgotten. Against his will he attracted the very creatures he wished to avoid. He shone like a beacon to his kin. They came to him as foul smells in the wind or as movements in empty room or he could hear their calls mingling with the prayers of the congregation. He

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

tried to ignore them, but they just became more intrusive. Every shadow contained a darkness that shouldn’t have been there and under every noise hid a whispered blasphemy. We who had by now become his group of faithful helped him keeping vigils, and we prayed with him as he fought his demons with flagellation and with prayers to God. He tried to surround himself with silence and light; they just waited and bid their time; they had longed for the unbounded reality of sunken R’lyeh for aeons, they had the patience of beings that know neither past nor future. In a final act of desperation he looked himself in a windowless and unfurnished room. He stayed there, fasting and praying, sustained only by our prayers and his, even then, inhuman endurance. I don’t know what happened in the closed room, but after over a month of torment he came out. He was gaunt and pale, but shone with an inner light, which we took as a sign of divine blessing. We started praising God for his deliverance. With a leer He told us to desist. ‘Brothers and sisters,’ he said. What was hidden has been revealed to me. I know who my true father is, and I have embraced my destiny.’ ‘Tell us,’ we shouted. ‘ ‘If I tell you,’ He answered. ‘You must follow me and break all your ties with the

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fleeting world you know.’ I did not hesitate before I shouted ‘YES.’ I was the first, and as He grabbed me and kissed me on my mouth my entire body shivered with the energy I felt in Him. ‘Indeed, you will bring my message to the world when it is time,’ He said. ‘And the humans will tremble as you enlighten them.’ He laughed as everyone else also shouted that they would sever their earthly ties and follow him. He kissed them all, though not as long or deeply as He had kissed me. ‘Come with me,’ He bade us. ‘Now I must sever my earthly ties.’ He led us to the room where His mother lived. Her nightmares had never stopped, and despite the devoted care of her son she was now quite mad. He hugged the pathetic creature before our eyes, and as He did He whispered in her ear. At first she just looked startled, but as her clouded mind comprehended that He repeated the very words that infected her nightmares she screamed. We shared with him this His flesh and His blood, and with this sacrifice we sealed the pact between Him and us, His followers. From now on His sermons became even more rapturous and people flocked to them. Some were repulsed by what he now preached, others begged for more. He re-

vealed to us that even though His powers were great, he was just a messenger; his task was to prepare for the release of the imprisoned. All illusions would be torn down. The True Gods would descend once more upon the Earth to devour. We, the chosen few would revel in eternal slavery in a world beyond our wildest dreams. For a little while we managed to hide the disappearance of His mother, but soon, after one particularly rapturous sermon, the old parson tried to confront Him outside the church. ‘I don’t like the new themes that you have introduced in your preaching. I really don’t like the looks of some of the new people who come to worship. And what has happened to your mother?’ the old parson said. At first He just smiled at the pathetic old man, then He told him the secret of His birth. Pale and wide-eyed, the old parson sunk down on the ground. Then he started cursing Him. Following Him, we abandoned this hollow church, laughing as we listened to the parson’s feeble curses as we left. We wandered the land in a merry carnival. Wherever we made camp He preached and performed miracles. New converts flocked to us: the outcasts, the malcon-


tent, the lonely, the crippled, the downtrodden, the insane. We lured the unwary and drew in the needy. He offered the converts the merest glimpse of the glories and carnage awaiting after the unveiling. Yet even that was too much for many, who fled dragging their blasted minds in the dirt behind them. We reveled at the secrets He divulged to us; we covered in fear as He showed us the creatures that move unseen among humanity; we danced in ancient subterranean cathedrals; we worshipped on hilltops with bound and gagged victims inside irregular stone circles, waiting to be sacrificed; we marveled at His transformation as He shed His last vestiges of humanity, and only we, His most devout servants, were allowed to see him in His hideous glory and sit at his feet as He communicated with His masters. He had now entrusted me to bring His message to the unenlightened. This happy time did not last. Maybe the old parson or maybe the trail of disappearances and cases of insanity had alerted the authorities, or maybe it was a traitor among us. I don’t know, and it isn’t important. Spies started appearing in our sermons, and uniformed police started harassing our followers. He was not concerned: ‘It is nearly time anyway,’ He said. During the night we quietly left our camp. Led

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

by shadows we followed hidden paths back to the place He had left so many years ago. We arrived in Innsmouth last evening. Awaiting us on top of a knoll outside the town within a circle of lichen-encrusted menhirs was a writhing sacrifice. He saw it, and said that it was good. One last time he bade us to join Him in feasting, and He reminded us of the first time we partook of His flesh and blood. Afterwards, He looked out at the sea and saw the bubbles and waves stirred up by no wind; he looked up and saw the black clouds circling above us. He saw all this and said that it was good. ‘I am ready,’ He said. ‘What must happen must happen.’ At that exact moment a hail of gunfire hit us from the bottom of the hill. Bullets tore our ranks, followed by a wave of men flowing up the hill. Many of us fell immediately. The survivors ran to meet the attackers head on, and joined with them in a frantic melee. Many more of us fell for their guns and pistols and knives, but we fought them, buoyed by the strength of our faith. He wielded frightening powers on top of the knoll, and let out energies that felled both His enemies and His followers. We would have slain them all if His powers hadn’t suddenly failed Him. Somewhat behind their line I spotted a several frail old men. They held

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up strange amulets and I could now hear their chants over the sounds of the battle. I tried to fight my way through to smite the old men down, but I was overwhelmed and left for dead. Stunned, I could just impotently watch as they Him in His last fight. He fought them with all his might and he slew many of them, but they inflicted cruel wounds on him, and in the end their sheer numbers brought Him down. They tied Him, bleeding and mortally wounded, to the menhirs. They laughed and slapped each other’s backs and looked pleased with themselves as He hung above them. When the old men reached the summit they started chanting again. They chanted for a long time, but still the sea continued churning and the clouds above continued circling. They started looking at each other, at Him, and around themselves, they faltered. Some shouted, ‘we have stopped the ritual. We have captured your priest, he is dying!’ Oblivious to their despair, the first towers started rising from the tormented sea. Then He lifted His and shouted with a clear and firm voice while blood gushed out of His mouth: ‘Forgive them Father Dagon, for they know not what they are doing...’ and

their individual shouts blended into one loud, terrified, mindless scream.

- THE END -

AUTHOR BIO: This story won third price in the Science Fiction Writers of the World’s 2007 competition. The author was born a Swede but after having lived in Mexico and Alaska he has now settled down in the UK, where he studies International Relations while writing Lovecraft inspired horror. The difference is not that big.


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

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The Eternal Diver by W. Wallace

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“There are moments when even to the sober eye of reason, the world of our sad humanity may assume the semblance of Hell.” - Edgar Allen Poe * In my younger years, I was cursed with a revelation that still haunts me, leaving me, at best, suffering great anxiety amongst the formerly inspiring countryside of our celebrated rural town of Marinston. This experience curtailed my youthful adventuring spirit and these days I rarely leave my house - situated in an area whose placement in the town cannot be argued as coincidental in being as far from the events of that Summer as possible - without leaving the, albeit mortifying, familiarity of my surroundings. For now I am filled with dread at what secrets the vibrant scenery of these neighbouring villages may hold, in union with those nightmares of who’s existence I am already too knowledgeable. That I failed to achieve my potential in my studies as a child is still an issue of regret, yet I am certain that the anxiety it produced only furthered my enjoyment of the Summer months in which I would escape the routine and ridicule of education. We

lived but minutes from the harbour. My father, a mariner, would on these feverous and broiling days venture to nearby islands on his modest vessel The Beholder and we would traverse terrain that held the voiceless beauty of aeons passed, who bore teeth-like splinters of decomposed trees at their shore and dense forestation that would enclose upon you. But alas, these distant shores and the tides that brought us there bring only a relieving moment of exultation to my adult recollections, for the horror that still preys upon my very soul and being occurred in waters not a stones’ throw from where as a child I lived and dreamed. The river Elder runs through all of Marinston. On the sweltering days in which the winds would be too cautious to stir even a craft as light as ours, my father and I bore our boat out to the water. I had never before seen the Elder at this season, yet my father confessed it looked foreign even to his experience, the river he had rowed since his youth. To say a river possessed a landscape is indeed a fallacy, yet the Elder appeared so on this day. There was a world grown out of


that primordial gulf that cleaved our small town in twain and this construction is what perturbed my father. The heated aura of the river overcame you, lulling you into the waters morbid pace under the midday sun. The river was blanketed with thick weed that trapped debris in its viscous buoyancy and the reeds were higher than ever before, encircled with swarms of the largest and most corpulent insects. The behaviour of the dragon flies seemed against all natural speculation. The few enthusiasts we did see along the river appeared most disturbed by the character of the river, often so as they would not return our calls of waves of greeting, that were customary amongst travellers of these waters. One party was distracted by some occurrence on the riverbank. I don’t believe they were aware we passed them.. My father put all these peculiarities down to the unusually hot weather we had experienced this year and further conjectured being a man of logic, that the heat may have attracted the creatures encompassing us from stranger shores. I trusted my father’s word, he had seen the world on a scale I will never experience and could not justify knowing what I now know. The risk seems too dear. As we continued our journey, that would

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

take us from West to East Marinston we approached a meander in the river beset on both sides by woodland elms who leered over the water creating the spiralling reflections of blackness amongst the insistent weeds before blotting the scene altogether in an ecliptic darkness. We slowed our pace, knowing this blind stretch would not last long. The next instant, in the half night of this tunnelled stretch we espied ahead of us what we fancied was a man swimming the waters in this darkened interval of The Elder. It was not uncommon for men to swim this river, my father knew one such fellow who claimed to bathe in the river on each day of the year. However, the thought alone of swimming here chilled me, for the venture aboard was unsettling without being in amongst its dreadful nature - even aboard our boat I had felt submerged in this noisome creek. We drifted on the Elder’s current toward the figure, unwillingly. My eyes set upon this hairless figure, whose exposed back and arms appeared greyish in the shadow-light of the tree cavern when as we neared our terror-laden tension was snapped when the swimmer dove into the waters with an agility that would have been admirable were it not for the irregularity of the scene. With un-

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easy relief we took our oars and continued. The scene somehow defied rationality yet my father pushed the boat onward, dislodging the oar from the coarse river-weed. His voice breaking, hoarse from that moment of freezing dread, he once again gave an explanation, a defence of natural order. “The diver must’ve made the land amongst those trees. We must’ve spooked him.. well, like ‘ee did us..” And I laughed with him, though perhaps at that point I had already lost my faith in such rigid and logical words of solace. The end of the tunnel-like stretch was ahead and we had completed the sweeping curve of the river when a sharp, slushing sound alerted us to a presence behind us. We gazed back into the abyss to see the diver, submerged from the neck, illumined by the light that entered amidst the elm canopy. The face bore a cadaverous stoicism. Its features, a corruption of the anthropoid form baffle my ability to impart their heinous blasphemy, only that they manifested the primal abhorrence of extreme disfigurement, as of an expression poised in a mocking configuration not willed by the minds control. Yet this creature’s bloated gaze was determined upon me.

At this point I must have fainted for I awoke at home. Startled into consciousness by half-dreams of that monstrosity, I thought only of that face and of my father, who must’ve returned us both home. It baffled me to think how we had made it out of that other-world of the Elder I ran to the kitchen, only to discover my father sat, motionless at the dining table. He was staring through our window, through the black trees to The Elder’s waters, with a held-fast expression of awed revulsion and I knew that the thing I witnessed swimming the rivers of our town in fact would never leave these waters but only submerge to dwell in its depth, in the black and amorphous heart of Marinston. AUTHOR BIO: Will Wallace is a Dorset based film student and sometime musician currently producing his debut short horror film “Welcome to Cannibal County”.


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

A Very Special Thanks To...

Chad Fifer & Chris Lackey of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast at HPPodcraft.com for helping make this issue possible. Check them out! http://www.hppodcraft.com

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The Pathetic Fallacy by Gary Butterfield

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“I’ve never been arrested.” I say this out loud to no one in particular when I see the cruiser pull up to the curb. It’s hot and nervous in my house and every living thing inside flexes. My body, for starters, wants to fold itself up and put itself away. Shadowfax, my cat, stops his tail, grabbing it with one paw and tucking it under his arm. He’s looking at me with his one good eye. My curtains refute the breeze. Knock, knock, knock at the door and it’s terrible and thunderous and I start a little. I force myself calm; I tell myself I haven’t done anything, not really. Nervous seemed about right for me. Was I always like this? Yeah. Maybe it started with my dad or maybe started with one bad babysitter or maybe with some pederast brother I can’t remember and, really, who the fuck knows or cares? I remember feeling belittled by teachers, ignored by girls at first and later women, left terribly alone. Insults disguised as jobs, prisons masquerading as apartments, endless voids dressed as girls and boys, an insipid legion of hours. My days leading up to the cave were marked by the twin insults of trivia and parody. There’s no point in looking back on the

tiny cracks that shattered me. Floods do not remember raindrops. What you remember is when the flood gates open. Listen: when I decided to try to control what had become my life, I found that I had no control. My hands were slippery on the wheel; my foot couldn’t find purchase upon the brake. Things I used to want, like physical intimacy or a decent job just refused to happen, no matter my will, and when I thought of the steps it would take to make these things a fraction more likely, those steps stretched out endlessly in front of me, like some Escher infinite staircase. Myself, at the bottom, I found my body and mind and soul refused to move. So I buried myself in games. A pathetic fiction. While my meager inheritance evaporated and my bills went upaid in the service of food , I stared at the ceiling of my small house, laying flat on the bed in which my parents fucked and something occurred to me: this world doesn’t want me. This human world has passed up every opportunity to utilize me and when I die, the world will be none the poorer for it. So here I was, wasted on the world. This was a boon because it was a problem I could


solve. My parents died old and sick and in pain and falling to pieces, like we all will if we aren’t murdered by cancer or a car first, and thus my medicine cabinet was rich with pain pills. I could take them, get addicted and have a respite from the pain, or better yet, Vicodin and Oxycontin could shepherd me to oblivion. Holding a fifty-fifty mix of both pills in my hand and standing in front of the sink, surveying what had been done to me, I tossed them back and swallowed. The reflection in the mirror swirled down the drain. Instead of nothing, I found myself lying on a cave floor. Like most Americans, what I knew about caves came from movies and books so I was unprepared for the overwhelming odor of bat shit. It got into my head, cleared my sinuses and felt like barely tangible fingers massaging my guts. I retched and no pills were produced. Compelled, I got up and stumbled forward through the slate gray darkness, hearing what had to have been bats above me and who knows what around me. There was only one way to go, like in life, and that was forward. So I did. After a few moments it became darker and the walls looked like dark puddles rather than still stone, so much so that I was afraid to touch them because I might fall in and drown.

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

It no longer smelled like guano but became something equally brutal. Like sewer. Like biology class. At the end of the tunnel I could barely make out the shape of a man in a suit. The walls were definitely glistening now and in addition to my breathing and heartbeat, I could hear a low, long note. “Hello?” I said and my voice produced no friction on the walls so there was no echo. “Do not come closer.” The man spoke in all languages at once. I picked out the English, I picked out the Latin, I picked out what little Spanish I remembered from high school. My head started pounding. I didn’t know then but it would never stop. The man, standing straight up, stiff as a board, moved in a peculiar manner, as if his feet were rooted in place and his body was a string running between his feet and head. I couldn’t make out his face in the distance but I could see the dark stains around his white collar and cuffs and the glistening blackness behind him. “Tell me what you want?” English. Latin. Spanish. I knew that there was a right answer. Did I want suicide? Oblivion? No. I wanted to be special. I wanted to be powerful. I wanted to be unique. I wanted control. I wanted to impact

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this world. Not as a great inventor or artist, but the way a hammer impacts a nail. The way it had chosen to impact me. I didn’t need to say so. The man nodded. “What price are you willing to pay?” Again, there was a right answer and the right answer was “anything.” And next, he spoke and again, it was in all languages but I remember most the phrasing in Latin. “Orasne pro hominibus?” Translated: Do you speak for man? This time, I knew there was no right answer. This was a choice and it was the first time in a long time I felt like I was making one. I was powerful. Time moved slowly in that moment, maybe literally, because when I think back on it, there were things about that cave that seemed to operate differently. Maybe it was dream logic and the associate physics but I swore at points my hair fell up and my blood flowed backwards. But, I thought, fuck it. “Yes, I do. I speak for man.” The man nodded and something pushed on the insides of my skull. The details after that are really inconsequential, merely aftershocks. Returned

to my home, I continued to age and my skin bloated and a toe did slough off. One patch upon my torso is like a rotten spot on an apple, soft and blackened and spilling foul, sweet smelling syrup when I touch it. And my gums, they grew sickly and weak. I don’t know when the man in the cave will come to collect. When he does, perhaps we will frolic like kittens in the gray chemical slurry that was the soil. Maybe he’ll drink the cloudy mess that sometimes stains my pillow when I awaken. I don’t care. The man in the cave is the future. The cave itself was the past. I shake off the memory and open the door. “Are you Michael Cavenaugh?” The cop is tall and surprisingly young and he has another young cop, a black, behind him, looking bored. Cop White wears aviator sun glasses that look like they came from a cop Halloween costume and carries a brown box. Cop Black is just cool and bored, but sweating, his head covered with short hair, looking like a glistening delicious peach. “I am.” “Michael,” Cop White says, “I’d like to talk to you a little bit, if I could.” The cop is soft and polite and his voice raises half


an octave. I hate that in him but my face stays still. If anything, the corners of my lips tighten a bit, it might look like a smile. “Forget it, man. They must have fucked up at the lab. It clearly ain’t him,” says Cop Black. “Go wait in the car then.” Cop White dismisses Cop Black. “What seems to be the matter, officer?” I sway in the doorway and itch all over but do nothing about it. Cop White nods and shoulders past me and Cop Black walks back to the patrol car, delicious peach. Cop White sniffs the air in my house and tries to hide any reaction but I can see disgust in his eyes and I don’t blame him. I am almost unseeable in my current state. My skin is yellow stained and hangs off of my body in bloated bags of subcutaneous sludge, my hair is shaved for convenience and for convenience I have a full beard, unkempt and uneven. I can’t really remember what my mouth and jaw looked like before my teeth fell out but it’s soft there now, limp. My clothing smells sour like sweat and old ejaculate because when I use a shirt to clean up I don’t always remember. My bare feet showcase nine toes in green and black and brown and pale ochre, the nails twisting and hardening and if you watch closely, maybe you can even see it

Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

happen. My house has not been attended to in some time and a trail of packaging circles the room. I can’t remember the last time I changed out Shadowfax’s box. I move some dishes off my couch to make room for Cop White but we just stand there and Shadowfax starts rubbing his leg. The cop reaches down to scratch his chin. “Mr. Cavenaugh,” he begins. He’s nervous. “I don’t know quite how to explain this but...” He pulls an object out of the box. It’s a human jaw attached to part of a skull. “What’s that, officer?” He stops petting Shadowfax. “This is you. At least that’s what the lab guys tell me. Librarian found it in Rare Books over at the University. Scared the piss out of her. We’ve been trying to get a hold of you but you’re always out. We’ve talked to the neighbors and they say you don’t ever turn off the lights. And about you spending all hours in a shed in the back yard. You mind if I take a look around? I try my best to fit my face into a shape the cop will understand. “Officer, this clearly isn’t my jaw. Last I checked, my jaw was still in my face!” I laugh, it sounds wet. I consider flashing him my gums at this point, just to see if

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I can get him to react. “You haven’t answered my question, Mr. Cavenaugh. Can I take a look around out back?” “I’m fairly certain that you don’t want to, Officer.” I look deep into his mirrored sunglasses, my gummy eyes wet with what might look like compassion as August sweat beads on his forehead. “I think I would like to, Michael. Just to be safe.” Hmm. “Do you have a warrant, Officer?” “No.” He stands up and glances at the shed out my kitchen window. “But I can get one.” “Well, you have an adventure ahead of you, don’t you Officer?” Cop White is a little shaken. He smells different than when he first came in. I show him out. After the cruiser departs I wait a beat before drinking half a quart of milk. For the last several years my stomach has felt like a coffee pot that was left to burn, acidic and angry. Then I kneel at the side of my broken, stained mattress and I pull out a long box, the kind you keep comics in. It’s filled with skulls. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. There are some fully

formed skulls. Some even have patches of tissue and blood and fat sprouting upon them. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was mold. One even has a little hair growing. Others are half formed, the top still split open like a blossoming flower. Some are just bits. The thing they all have in common is that they orbit a single corn yellow tooth. I count them, eleven. The final eleven. It should take a couple of hours to get the warrant, at least. Feeling inspired and slightly compulsive, I walk out to my shed. Inside, standing shoulder to shoulder is an army of me. Fifteen Michael Cavenaughs, packed like sardines, naked, slim, coated with paste like what’s under a day old band aid. They have dumb, sagging expressions on their faces. Each one has a single corn yellow tooth in their skull. Sure enough, the third from the left lacks a jaw bone, his tongue waving back and forth in the folds of his limp mouth. No matter. On the shelf behind them are books pilfered from libraries. De Vermis Mysteriis, The Eltdown Shards, The Book of Eibon. The man in the caves has his plans but I do too. I laugh and feel the August heat on my rotting, blackened gums.


Happy Birthday Lovecraft!

AUTHOR BIO: Gary Butterfield is a writer/musician and podcaster located in Portland, Oregon. He cohosts the popular Watch Out For Fireballs! podcast at http://duckfeed.tv/ watchoutforfireballs/ and you can find his other work at www.garybutterfield.net. If he could get HP Lovecraft anything for his birthday, it’d be a balanced, nutritious meal. Perhaps a Meals on Wheels sort of thing.

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Insomnia Press

CREDITS R. Thomas - Editor-in-Chief S. LeGrand - Design & Contributing Artist A. McKenzie - Advice Columnist And of course a very special thanks to our readers and contributors. The end of this issue begins a two month hiatus for our publication. But fret not, we’ll be back in December with more stories to keep you awake all night. All art is copyright their respective artist. Under the Full Moon copyright Steven Santiago

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Insomnia Press #2: Happy Birthday, Lovecraft!  

Dedicated to the late, great H.P. Lovecraft

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