Fiction Circular 2/15/19

Editor’s note: links affixed to author/publisher’s name will redirect to author/publisher social media, links affixed to story/article titles will redirect to the site whereupon the named piece is archived. ‘Independent authors’ section focuses on lone individuals who publish their own literary work, ‘independent publishers’ section focuses upon independent presses, lit-mags, e-zines and other literary organizations who publish fictive work of multiple authors and ‘literary ephemera’ focuses on non-prose non-fiction literature, such as certain poems, news and art theory articles, reviews, interviews and critiques.


INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

From Mr. Vic Smith, Dead Calm. A sonorously bleak tale about self-sacrifice.

He was free to be just as idle because without the wind, the runner stone does not turn.

 

— Dead Calm


INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

From Defiant Scribe, The Eggshell Floor, by Maddie Adams. A story about family loss and dysfunction.

Imogen Beatty. Loving wife, mother, and grandmother. RIP.

Three lines weren’t enough for someone’s life.

 

— The Eggshell Floor

From Drunken Pen Writing, The Red Crown, by Mikhail Bulgarov. The story of the mental breakdown of a man confined to a sanitarium after the death of his brother. Gripping and highly recommended.

Most of all I hate the sun, loud human voices, and pounding. Rapid, rapid pounding.

 

— The Red Crown

From Ellipsis Zine, A Marriage to the Earth, by Simeon Ralph. A meditation on Nature’s savage increase.

The man turns his head and spits and his thick saliva lands in a clump of wild grass on the verge by the side of the road. It glues two blades together as it slides the length of them before pooling at the roots and seeping into the damp soil. The warmth of the man evaporates as the ground envelopes his discarded enzymes and electrolytes and absorbs his DNA. The earth accepts this gift but remains hungry.

 

— A marriage to the Earth

From Fictive Dream, Mountain Lake by Leonard Kress. On the idyll of youth.

She wades into the lake, moving slowly, using her toes to feel for sharp rocks and plants, so slowly that her movement barely disturbs the water’s surface. Three young men sit on a flat boulder at the edge of the lake. Their legs dip into the water and they watch her. One is the girl’s boyfriend, another her ex-boyfriend, and the third trembles imperceptibly in her presence. Before stepping into the lake, she removes her jeans and lets her white tunic fall to her thighs. Now the bottom of the tunic brushes against the surface of the water giving it a dark border that gradually broadens as she moves farther from the shore.

 

— Mountain Lake

From Flash Fiction Magazine, Lot, by Mary Li. A story about a self-conscious vehicle. One of this weeks stranger and more original additions.

The strange thing about the new models is that they don’t talk back. I’d like to tell them about the acoustic guitar that sales guy Dan left in my trunk on his way back from a gig.

 

— Lot

From Forge Lit Mag, Alfie, by John Saul. A deftly penned piece of literary experimentation.

A woman not a fellow plaster-watcher by the sound of her is discussing artists on her phone.

 

— Alfie

From Idle Ink, Angel Wing, by BF Jones, a tale of marriage, heartbreak and the specter of loss. As sorrowful as it is moving (and exceptionally well-written).

She likes the angel wing shadow downstairs, the warm feeling it gives her when she touches it.

 

— Angel Wing

From Literally Stories 2014, Paper Skins, by L’Erin Ogle, a harrowing tale of a vindictive sorceress and the man she loves. The author’s prose is exceptionally good.

-hunks of bread I baked turned sharp as the blade of my rage, cutting the mouths of my family-

 

— Paper Skins

From The Molotov CocktailThe Kitsune, by Candace Hartsuyker. Concerning the grim and conflicted adventures of a fox-girl.

Days go by. In the hollow of another cliff she finds newborns, eyes closed shut. Pink bodies twitch, hairless and warm. She licks her lips. Swallows them whole.

 

— The Kitsune

From Red Fez, On Death Row by Jared Blakely. Many people think of themselves as heroic, until the moment to act as such occurs, whereupon they are paralyzed by fear and indecision; this, Mr. Blakely’s story capture’s beautifully.

Nick’s eyes shot up and scanned the room. Nobody cared. They were staring out of the window or on their cell phones or looking down at their own feet.

 

— On Death Row

From Reflex Fiction, Terror Attack, by Nina Pandey. A cautionary tale about the dangers of living “like there’s no tomorrow” (even if there really is none).

The minute she was told she had cancer she realised she’d never felt happiness before.

— Terror Attack

From Spelk, The Forgotten Man, by Jason Beech. A gripping portrait of one man who has lost everything.

I exit the prison with a pogo stick in my step. Five years in that cold, green-tiled Victorian relic has dulled something inside. I scratch my cauliflower ears and shake some recognition of the outside into my concussed brain.

 

— The Forgotten Man

From Terror House, Sweethearts, by Robert Ragan. A horrifying tale of lust, obsession and revenge.

 For the first time, he saw common houseflies buzzing around instead of butterflies when he thought of her.

 

— Sweethearts

From The Arcanist, Nannybot by Ophelia Leong, wherein a mother’s idea to purchase a robotic caretaker for her child goes somewhat awry.

It’s eyes glowed with a malevolent red light and for a moment Priscilla was paralyzed with fear. — Nannybot

From The Story Shack, Rex, by Jonathan VanDyke. A slick, over-the-top, action-thriller parody. Funniest piece I read all week.

Several bullets punctured the grill of the car and shattered window glass as newspaper stands passing by exploded into clouds of shredded paper, but Rex didn’t mind, this was a slow Tuesday.

 

— Rex


LITERARY EPHEMERA

From Channillo, On The Outside, Looking In (1), by David Estringel. On indolence, inspiration and becoming a writer (part one of a series). Highly recommended.

My intrigue with the written word came about in a rather non-traditional way: Charlie Rose. Apart from the rather strange May-December, platonic bromance vibe between us (well, my TV), the main appeal of staying up until 3 AM to watch his show centered around the writers he often had on as guests. My first glimpse into the lives of the literati, I knew right there and then that I had a place in that world. Quick-witted and wickedly smart, they saw life in ways I never dreamed possible. I wanted to be them.

 

— On The Outside, Looking In (1)

From New Pop Lit, Thinking Beyond The Flat Narrative. On news, information dissemination, one-sidedness and (re-)thinking narrative interrogation so as to better navigate hyperreality; part one of a series.

The three-dimensional thinker is ahead of the curve.

 

— Thinking Beyond The Flat Narrative

From The New Republic, a fantastic piece on of the greats of the western canon, The Significance of Herman Melville.

“-life becomes intensified and purposive when the battle with the forces of Nature, like Ahab’s battle, is a deliberate pursuit and challenge-”

 

— The Significance of Herman Melville

From Tim Miller, Daedalus & Icarus (poem), originally published via Poethead. A beautiful, if mournful, ode to the mythic craftsman.

he strikes them away and leaves them on the wall,
all of them, as well as the envy and
revenge his talents inspired, all hammered
forgotten. But not his son. Twice he’s tried

to let him go, as the sky did before
the sea took him; twice he’s tried to fashion
his face or his descent or his youthful limbs
or just his eyes, and twice he’s stopped in tears.

 

— Daedalus & Icarus


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The Journal of Wayer Farley | Part 6

(continued from part 5)


“She was convinced that this… thing, was real. She was obsessed with it. In her last days, she spoke of nothing else.”

“Poor woman. How was it she… ah, forgive me. I shouldn’t pry.”

“You were going to ask how she died? Its alright. Its seldom I get to speak of these things to anyone, the old family isn’t particularly keen to come down here anymore, especially not Varney.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Not as sorry as I am. Well, anyways, to the heart of it. You can see from the book – though you had doubtless already heard – Ms. Montefremont was most fond of drawing. She sketched ceaselessly, from sun up to nightfall, everyday, without exception. After her first… suicide attempt, I had her pencils confiscated. Too dangerous. After the third, I forbade staff from providing her access to any pointed objects with which she might be able to harm herself or another member of the staff. Only soft charcoal was permitted. Foolishly one of the orderlies forgot to check the package one after noon — god, I still remember it, as if it had but happened yesterday — and… inside that charcoal packet was a small art scalpel, for sharpening the stick to requisite length and width. She… she cut her wrists. It was… I found her. Soaking in a pool of her own blood and there upon the wall, scrawled in her own wet red were the words: ‘metal talon’d and malcontent | smoked in ire til all bloods spent | til the last seeds of time expire | whence fades all the vaunted fires | to the deep and soundless place | I cast myself into your embrace.’ Below the bloody scrawl was a picture… of that… thing, from the book. The thing from the ‘deep and soundless place.'”

I could see that the recollection had greatly affected the director, so much so that it was clear he was fighting back tears. I had never seen him so upset before.

“That’s truly dreadful. I don’t know what to say.”

“You need say nothing.” He turned and looked out the window where the moonlight crystallized over the treetops like an eldritch mist.

“Getting late.”

I agreed and thanked him for the drink and the conversation, shook his hand and left him to his leathery, half-smoked cigar and bourbon and headed to my chambers down the hall.

I dreamt that night. Of Clarisa, though I had never met her. She sat playing a piano in the main lobby of the asylum, smiling as I approached. The tune she played was foreign to my ears, dissonate and unnerving, yet, simultaneously enthralling as her mundane beauty. We sat playing together until my hands tired and I, quite accidentally, hit out of key, whereupon Clarisa look shrunk from me muttering strange words as the piano strings clanged and transformed into massive centipedeal beasts that slithered across the ground and up the wall as a thrumming noise, or something like a noise, filled up the ambit of my consciousness. Words began to form from the overwhelming sibilation, spoke as if by many voices in semi-unison, and all of a different tone and tenor.

“-down the spiral inside the blooded womb right triangle awry structures distended still standing neath their angular shade pulsing flesh howls like rabid dogs skin tearing off the vegetal mold mocked by lichen licked by stone inside a cage ribcage necrophage scratching branches reaching vainly to welkin-sparks gray snail’d as depraved scales hanging heavy-lidded over fat and bulging eyes spellbound by heaving breasts and seamen spurts hips like lances minds like glue sticky weak and loose cleared by wreakful return and the chittering call the furnace strikes and piston shrieks and machinic talons razor gleaming steam screaming clanging hanging metal-cleaver-sharp the red-iron-brand smoked with rhea’s black blood-”

I realized with shock and horror that it was my mouth that was moving, my tongue that spake forth those strange and insane lines. “Clarisa!” I howled, turning to where she had been and finding nothing but her clothes, covered over in chitinous scales. Upon closer inspection, they were not her clothes at all, but mine.

The Journal of Wayer Farley | Part 5

(continued from part 4)


He smiled ever so slightly, as if the act were difficult for him and then removed two cheap shot glasses from the same desk drawer which had previously held the ambered and aromatic liquid and filled them halfway full and slid one across the table to me. I picked up the cup and swirled it around, not because it needed stirring but because I’d seen a man do as much in a motion picture. It was what classy folk did. Or so I believed. I didn’t wish my superior to think me simple, to think me some over-educated country bumpkin, especially when I already believed that he believed I was half mad. My ostentatious display attracted no attention; Merric ignored the ritual entirely and lifted his glass straight to his lips and took a sip, closing his eyes and bobbing his head slightly, affirmatively. We talked shop for a while, the details of that conversation I shall not bore you with. However, near the end of our conversation my mind wheeled back to Derren and the sound of the weeping woman. Derren had heard it too – it couldn’t haven been a trick of the mind. No, this was no mere imagining; it was real. And then another entered my head. I put down my glass and cautiously and politely inquired if Merric knew what had happened with the Montfremonts. He signed and rose and checked the door and then sat back down and lit up a cigarette, despite the face that smoking, like as drinking, was also strictly forbidden on estate grounds.

“I figured you’d ask about that, sooner or later. Was only a matter of time.”

“I understand it is indelicate. Its just that I’d heard the stories…”

“That’s the trouble with the thing, everyone has heard ‘the stories’ but which ones? There are so many now that I find it impossible to keep track.”

“You were here, when it happened – is that correct?”

“Who told you that?” He was getting buzzed. This was my chance to gather information, unfettered by the stale formalities of my station.

“No one told me that. Your records are public, same as mine.”

“Well, yes. Yes I was.”

“If you don’t want to talk about it…”

“No, no its fine. I don’t mind. Its just, you know how it is with the new students around here.”

“A little cat-curious, yes.”

“Indeed! Only instead of winding up dead they’re winding me up into a fit. Questions, questions, questions! Every other day. Ghost stories and tawdry gossip. Its most unfortunate. All these rumors. They besmirch the name of a good family. Well, anyways, yes I was here when… it happened. When Clarisa… well, you know the story.”

“What was it that caused her such distress?”

He gave me a grave look and then removed a sketch-book from the middle of his desk and slid it across the table to me.

“This.”

I set down my glass and opened the book. Inside were a considerable number of notes, occupying the first page, they became increasingly erratic until, by the third page, they were completely unreadable. Upon the fourth page I paused, my mouth falling slightly agape, for there, sketched in charcoal was a hideous monstrosity the likes of which I had never before seen. It had the form of a reptilian centipede and was long and thick and coated in sharp chitinous scales, with innumerable legs and dozens of eyes, most gruesome of all was that this creature was emerging from the stomach of a young woman whose likeness I knew well. Clarisa. From her sundered womb a torrid abyss opened up, as if the fearsome entity pulled some distant reach of the far-off galaxy along its wake. I flipped the page and was greeted by a sight yet more horrid; the creature, having now emerged, gorging on the dessicated husk of the woman, whose flesh rippled and boiled and seethed as seafoam. I shut the book, grimacing.

“Good God…”

The Journal of Wayer Farley | Part 4

(continued from part 3)


“How extraordinary.” I muttered dejectedly, mouth falling open slight. Merric raised a brow and laid a firm, finely manicured hand upon my shoulder.

“Are you feeling quite alright?”

“I… no. I don’t know what came over me. Its like… damn it. I can’t explain. It were as a fit of… of-”

“You’re overworked and underpaid. I’ve seen it before. The stress. Being around this madness. The darkness. Strange noises in the night. You start jumping at shadows.”

I nearly laughed, for I had just said as much to Derren. I stifled my black humor and nodded gravely instead as Merric continued.

“Imagination runs wild you never know what you’ll see and hear. Ghosts, hobgobs and lights in the sky…”

“Yes. You’re quite right. Creativity is a peerless weapon. Irksome when it turns against its wielder.”

“I think I know your problem, Wayer.”

“What is that sir?”

“All that poetry. Literary sensibilities. You’ve the training of a medical man but the soul of an artist. Minds such as yours are, in their essence, more susceptible to fancy such as those on which you fly tonight.”

“Yes, yes I think you’re quite right. I’m sorry to have troubled you, sir.”

The older man clicked his tongued and smiled faintly.

“I’m but ten years your senior, hardly enough for ‘sir,’ at any rate, no trouble at all. Why don’t you come for a drink.”

I knew that drinking on-premise was strictly forbidden, but Merric, as Psychiatric Director, sat upon the top of the active asylum hierarchy – how could I refuse, especially when he had been so accommodating, so measured in his visement? I acquiesced and followed the man down to the main floor, to the southern-most corridor of Ward M-A and sat down in his office as he set himself gently down into his large leather chair and produced a bottle of bourbon from a drawer in his large brentwood file desk.

“You like bourbon?”

“Much as anyone.”

The Journal of Wayer Farley | Part 3

(continued from part 2)


Weeping. Faint and feminine and coming from the immediate upper floor. From Ward M-B. I thought at first that it might be a television one of the orderlies or guards had left on. Some of them carried small portable TV sets around for viewing during their lunch-break. I paused near the stairwell at the northern most end of the corridor of Ward M-A and listened. Nothing. I was sure it was the TV. What else could it be? But then I heard it again. Clear as crystal. A woman’s cry. I had been on Ward M-B many times but never had I heard such a sound, it chilling the blood in my veins and sending my hair to straights. So Derren was right! But how? Why? Why was a woman in the male ward? Thoughts of criminal behavior, seedy, lewd and beastly ran through my mind – was foul play afoot? No. No, hardly possible, I reasoned. I knew every member of the institute, good and kindly souls all. Men and women of science. Hardworking. Trust worthy. And yet… In the struggle, curiosity won out over fear and I flew to the source of the ferine cries. Footfalls rattling in the dim.

When I reached the upper landing the weeping was louder still. It sounded like the disinterred wailing of a thousand lifetimes of suffering and I froze with the force of it and steeled myself against all better judgment. I had to know what was going on… if one of the clinicians had forgotten a patient… The sound was coming from the end of the hall. In the failing light the checkered floors seemed to blend and melt together, no longer black and white but one fluid continuum of intermingling and extradimensional masonry. Sweat trickled on my brow and my breath came uneasy. What was the matter with me? What fell power had gripped me? I felt as if I were at any moment about to collapse and the closer to the door which masked the wailing woman the more intense the disquieting feeling grew until I had to stop and lean against the wall whereupon a voice came form the dark as a lantern lit up the gloam, revealing a stern, bearded face.

“Dr. Wayer? What are you doing up here?”

“Director Merric. The sound-”

“Sound, man? What sound? Goodness, you’re covered in sweat. Were you doing laps up and down the stairs?”

“I… I…”

What could I say. The sound had stopped. Dr. Merric would think me mad if I were to state my intention, yet would think me a sneak if I did not. I could not win and so choose what I perceived the lesser of two ills. Honesty.

“I heard a sound. This will sound strange but… it sounded like a woman crying.”

Dr. Merric raised the lantern and narrowed his eyes, taking in my measure. I knew he wouldn’t believe me, but it couldn’t be helped. At length he pursed his lips and removed a key ring from his left coat waist-pocket and deftly fingered through the ring until he found the appropriate instrument. He unlocked the door and pushed it open.

The room was empty.

The Journal of Wayer Farley | Part 2

(continued from part I)


He looked up then, panic clouding his sallow, shunken-eyed visage. I could tell I had disturbed him.

“But I hear her at night. You said I wasn’t mad!”

“Calm yourself, sir. The mind plays tricks. Tree branches scratching the windows. Animals calling.”

He cut me off, speaking up quite stridently, his whole body going tense.

“I heard her. She weeps.”

I decided to change the subject and asked him what music had been listening to, after several minutes of listening to him digress upon Wagner and Bach he calmed, his mind absorbed in a contemplation of fine art, but shortly he stated that there was another composer whose work delighted him but whose name he couldn’t remember. Being somewhat muscially astute myself, I inquired as to the style of the piece, thinking I could perhaps pick up where his memory failed. He paused and then rose, furrowing his crinkled brows and shaking his head.

“I can’t… remember. It was… strange. Strange. Chittering. Like insects.”

Concern and dejection clouded my mind. He had been improving so swiftly and yet now he seemed worse than when he had first been admitted; worse than I had ever seen him. Crying girls in the male ward. Insectal noises. It was nonsense. He was, of course, mad, but I could not tell him as much, despite the overwhelming impulse I felt to do so. I began to believe that I was long overdue a break. A vacation. Fat chance! I shook myself from reverie and told him I would keep my ear primed of the piece to which he referred, though I knew it did not exist, and bid him a goodday and moved on to the rest of my patients. Midday progressed to evening without incident until the moon peeked over its shroud of roiling clouds that mushroomed ominously over the tops of the gnarled claws of the trees that reached out towards the sky as if in desperate pleading.

It was then I heard it.

The Journal of Wayer Farley | Part 1

I know not how to begin nor how much time I have left to scrawl down the memories that squirm so uneasy in my thrumming skull. How does one describe such a thing? “Thing,” that is the only word for it. For it was no man. Though doubtless fantastical my tale will seem, I feel compelled to recount the episode, to lay out everything in the greatest possible detail, not for mere posterity, but for the safeguarding of all who read hereafter…

I am a clinical psychiatrist. In 2015, I was offered a job by the board of the Montfremont Mental Institute of Cleveland working the male ward. They needed new blood given that the previous clinical psychiatrist who had worked the male ward had died several weeks prior under most mysterious circumstances. This grim information naturally raised my hackles, however, the pay was good and my mind was restless. I had dedicated my life to interrogating mental illness, spurred on as I was by the memory of my deteriorating grandmother, babbling half-nothings to the bluebirds on her lawn feeder and confusing me for her late husband, Edumund, or as I knew him, Grandad Eddy. Such memories steeled my heart with purpose. Thus, I accepted the offer and made way to Montfremont Institute and there arrived on the first of February. Whilst the institute was deemed a part of the city-proper in truth it sat far outside of it, beyond the heated concrete hum, in a high, twisted wood, upon a incline that was rumored to have been a ancient burial ground, though, no one really believed it. The institute had previously experienced trouble with harum scarums of all sorts, journalists who’d crept round to find out if the relatives of the city’s elite where there confined, young punks who’d graffitti the walls and thieves and darker sorts who fancied that mental wards, being designed to stay internal egress, were lax as to external incursion. Personally, I induced that the burial mound story had been invented by one of the board-members to deter unwanted company.

Upon the end of my first month working inpatient clinical services at that cold and eerie manse, a most singular event occurred which in equal measure shocked, perplexed and horrified all who beheld it.

But first, to render the instance sensible to the uninitiated, I must note that Montfremont Institute had been the last great work of the late industrialist, Charles W. Montfremont, whose young daughter, Clarisa Montfremont had, upon her twenty seventh birthday, been stricken with a terrible and inexplicable bout of madness and had subsequently fallen into a catatonic stupor. The event so moved Mr. Montfremont that he transformed his subtantial estate into a make-shift psychiatric hospital so as to provide the very best care to his troubled daughter whose condition only continued to deteriorate. He not only renovated the interior but also hired a part-time staff of professionals, physicians and psychiatrists. So grief-stricken was Montfremont by his dearest’s plight that five months after his daughter’s fall from reason, he took his own life by way of cyanide-laced tea. The papers put the death down to a heart attack though few believed the story and poor Clarisa fell out of reality completely. It was reported by certain looselipped servants of the family that she began to paint the walls with her own blood, chanting strange words to herself as she did so in a tongue none could understand. Naturally, this horrified the medical community as well as the surviving members of her family but so absorbed were they in settling the late Charles’ affairs that prolonged and direct intervention was rendered impossible and so she was confined to her room and assigned a personal caretaker to ensure her safety. Shortly thereafter, it came to light that Charles had left everything to his daughter which caused quite a scandal. Due Clarisa’s condition, the ownership of the estate was transferred to Varney Montefremont, the elder Montefremont’s youngish cousin, a incorrigble social climber. Varney, a energetic philanthropist, took the venture public and turned the estate into a full-fledged, non-profit clinical institute which greatly added to his popularity. This popularity was dented, however, when Clarisa, in a fit of utter madness, took her life. Details at the time of the incident were scarce but the papers blamed the staff. Negligence. In response to this tragedy, Varney pledged to completely transform the institute, to modernize it and implement a complete staff overhaul. Whilst a dark cloud still hung over the Montefremont name, Varney’s campaign was largely successful and shortly, the entire event passed from all minds and was forgotten; just another curious tale to divulge around the watercooler.

Having thus divulged in brief fashion the history of the institute I can now relay the bizarre adventure to which I had earlier referred. Montfremont is divided into two wings, male to the west, female to the east. My duties frequently took me to both wings but, given my sex, I found myself in the former with greater frequency than the latter. One evening, towards the end of February I was making the rounds on the ground floor of the male wing, tending to my patients, physical examination, psychophysiological diagnostics, comforting them where able, noting suggestions for future dosage adjustments and filling up my leatherbound notebook with personal remarks. I had just arrived at the room of a one Dale D. Darren. He was schizophrenic, plagued by delusory fits of sounds and noises that bore no earthly source, yet, he was both kindly and pliant and on my word was kept from being moved up a floor to Ward M-B where high-risk patients were kept. He sat upon the edge of his cot in the spacious makeshift bedroom, rubbing his knees as if removing some stain which only he could see. He said nothing as I entered the room and only spoke when I addressed him directly.

“How are you feeling today, Mr. Derren?”

“I can’t get it off.”

“You still see the scales.”

“I know… they’re not really they’re. I know that. I just can’t stop seeing it.”

He looked up at me, his long, thin face filled with pleading.

“It doesn’t sound it, but this is good. That’s the first time you’ve admitted it.”

“I didn’t want to think I was mad.”

“You’re not mad. You simply have a chemical imbalance.”

“Isn’t that the same thing?”

I placed my hand upon his shoulder and smiled broadly. He plucked up.

“You’re not mad, Derren.”

“Yeah.”

“The mad do not know that they are mad.”

“Yeah. Yeah. You’re not going to hook me up to that machine again are you?”

“No. Not today. I just came by to see how you were doing.”

He closed his hands over his knees and nodded firmly.

“I’m doing… good. Its the girl I worry about.”

“Girl?”

“Yeah.” He nodded once more, starring intensely at the floor as if it might, at any moment, divulge some momentous secret unto him.

“This is the male ward. There are no girls.”

The Second Visitation | The Sea of Corn

IN MY DREA M | I stalked along a dusty road which ran betwix two fields of corn that stretched beyond the line of sight and vanished into the space between earth, horizon and sky, the liminal realm where Apep lay with baited breath for the encroachment of his eternal foe. Each stalk, higher than the highest man and certainly higher than the five foot, eight inches of blood and bone and flesh.

A strong wind gusted in from above and shortly thereafter, a sound in the corn. A steady and readily multiplying thrumming, liken to the sound of footfalls, but unlike the footsteps of any normal man. My heart raced and my breath quickened as something moved beyond at the periphery of my sight, fear subsumed me and pressed me to its bosom. With haste, way was made into the cornfield, stalks flying by, as if accelerated through some cosmic convergence; shortly, a clearing with an old scarecrow. I braced myself against the farmyard prop and listened. Nothing. Straightening, I caught the mischievous wyrm-of-breath which sought its escape from my heaving lungs, longing to return to its brethren in the clouded realm of the lunar dancers where they thundered to ancient and draconian rhythms.

Back in, back in! I require thee! Fuel for my engine. Fuel to flee this queer plot.

The next moment there came a dreadful creaking. Wood. The scarecrow was moving! It’s head spun about in unnatural, inhuman contortion to stare at me with it’s blank, black sack-hole eyes. Then it leapt from its wooden perch, leapt at me! The next moment was a blur of motion, my feet hitting the husk scattered ground hard and fast until I was long and good and free and clear of the animated farm ornament and his clacking and odd-angled limbs of wood and hay and cloth.

They are coming. To rend and tear. To rip and gnash. To sund and split.

Alack, again that voice, ringing in mine ears as if it were emanating from my vary brain! It was HIM. He who I had encountered in my last dream, he who had loomed over me upon the endless stair in the limitless hall. I could not see his centipedal form but could feel his presence, pulsing, not around, but within me.

What will you do? How will you gird your pathetic flesh? Can you? You can barely keep up this pace. Already your legs slacken, your pulse soars and your pores slick over with wetness. The whole of the body subsumed by fear. Feeble.

Shut up!

Anger will not avail you. I did not bring you here. You have no one to blame but yourself.

I’m not the one chasing me – now – get out of my head!

The scarcecrows close upon you. You cannot outrun them for they do not tire.

Get. Out. Of. My. Head.

The words poured out of my mouth this time, no longer merely contained to my mental sanctum; as if the foreign entity within me had expelled all speech, as if his consciousness had begun to displace my own. Control swiftly dissipating. Tension and dread the whole of my form, form the whole of my world. Was this how it was to end? Was I to die sad, harried and alone in a nowhere cornfield? I would not allow it. This was not my design.

Your imagination rebels against demise, for you can picture a life beyond your present circumstance… the will is lacking.

The will? Did he expect me to fight them? Still running haplessly, I shot a glance behind; the scarecrows where everywhere, numbering in the hundreds, lumbering through the corn with savage increase, their forms horridly skeletal in the failing, amber light.

Why aid me, ᚲᚺᚨᚨᚱᛁᛉᚨᛚ?

An amused laugh echoed throughout the endless caverns of my mind.

Why not? Better you then they. They’ve no imagination. They are no artists. They are no creators. They are husks and nothing else besides.

Tell me then, what am I to do?

Find the ship that lies to the north.

I nearly gasped for my route of escape had taken me south. To find the ship the entity spoke of I would have to transgress against the skeletal horde.

The choice is a simple one. Your coward’s heart or me. Decide.

I glanced out at the field, roiling out and beyond the horizon’s fathomless edge. He was right, there was no escape. Steeling the nerves and focusing my will I turned upon my heel and rushed the grotesque conglomerate. The first scarcecrow, feeble and rickety was as a brickwall and against it I was powerless. The creature pinned me to the ground, it’s sightless gaze piercing the outer sanctum of my mind; tearing into my flesh and reaving great and bloody gashes upon the ground. I shouted out in desperation.

ᚲᚺᚨᚨᚱᛁᛉᚨᛚ, help me!

The moment the words had left my mouth my skin was covered over in chintinous plate as dark as pitch, hard as obsidian and ‘gainst this newest skin my foe’s ravishments were rendered superflous; its scrawny wooden-straw arms dinging off my glistening carapace. Strength such as I had never experienced before surged throughout my body and with the lightest jerk of my arm I tore the monster’s head from it’s miserable body and threw it into the oncoming waves of its fellows. Charging through the rest was as if I were but passing through a shallow shrub and when fifty had been rendered by my hand a great galleon of clockwork rose up from the sea of corn, a ladder hanging from its side. Climbing aboard, it instantly began to rise, though it unhelmed and empty.

Standing upon the bow, the ship floating across the top of the stalks as if fording mighty waves, I looked down upon my inhuman form and smiled.

The First Visitation | ᚲᚺᚨᚨᚱᛁᛉᚨᛚ

IN MY DREAM | I stood upon a great stair in a endless hall, below which was a voiceless chasm, above which were the voices of a multitude. Tongues in discord liken to the rattling of leaves under a gale. All was lightless, save for a single beam upon the landing & when I stood thereupon the voices spoke as one & the hall was filled with a centipedal chittering. From the amniotic null arose the form of a great and monstrous being with a chintinous carapace like as that of a centipede. The wondrous thing enwrapt the stairwell and filled up the whole of the room and shuttered the light with its chthonic frame and spoke in a million concordant tongues.

D e v o u r 

My heart knocked ‘gainst my ribs; paralysis the whole of my form and, in that moment, my name. With great courage I steeled my nerves and forced myself to behold the towering entity, to muster the inner strength to hold it in my gaze. It was not the being’s size which impressed and terrified me, but rather, the tilt of it’s head, inquisitive and inhuman and the luminous sheen of it’s eyes, like coal-fire in the night and the pleasing tenor of it’s cacophonous voices. Yet, the creature did not move forth in a manner to threaten.

What was to be devoured?

A l l  t h a t  i s  t h a t  c a n n o t  b e c o m e

Even me? Will you devour me as well, creature? I inquired with the last and fading remnants of my courage. The titanic centipedeal being moved forth ever so slightly and, thought it had no lips, it seemed to smile.

O n l y  p a r t

When?

A l r e a d y

A strange sensation then in the pit of my stomach and when I looked no stomach of my own was left, but only a black and chitinous shell, like the carapace of a scarab. I opened my mouth to scream but the tongue was drowned by a dozen skittering legs which then slithered from my throat | I AWOKE AND KNEW HIS NAME.

ᚲ ᚺ ᚨ ᚨ ᚱ ᛁ ᛉ ᚨ ᛚ