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Posts Tagged ‘short story’

18lp5c9jxqj7rjpgEsoteric horror brought to you courtesy of ironic sexism.

In the twenty-some years I studied at the Miskatonic I came to realise the importance of the university in relation to the safety and security of the planet as a whole. Scholars at this fine institution, with its collection of rare tomes and artefacts and with its association to exploring the furthest reaches of our planet nowhere was better suited to battle the elder horrors which threaten this world – in secret of course.

Since at least the nineteen-twenties, and likely as far back as its founding, the university has been a centre for a number of professors and investigators risking life, limb and sanity to preserve fragile humanity from destruction at the hands of cosmic horrors.

But no more.

Our little cabal of professors and assistants, explorers, scholars of ancient languages, parapsychology, science and antiquities was outed when an overzealous assistant registered our society with the university authorities – seemingly on a whim. There were some benefits to this, we no longer had to masquerade as something else when we needed to use facilities and money was made available, which greatly improved the quality of the coffee we were drinking but had we known the consequences this would have we would have never gone along with it.

Things proceeded as normal, albeit with better coffee, for perhaps a month until we received a visitation from the campus diversity officer who had been checking into the various university groups and societies to ensure they conformed to a set of rules so changeable, esoteric and confusing that even I – who has mastered the incantations of the Dark Pharaoh – could not decipher them.

What it appeared to boil down to was that we were all too old, too white and too male and that we would have to induct more people from what she referred to as ‘minorities’. Women, persons of colour and so forth.

This delighted professor Abernathy, who has long argued that we need ‘more chicks in eschatological disaster prevention’, but it presented a problem for the rest of us, whose classes are still mostly inhabited by white men as well and the few women we did have in our classes showed little or no interest in tackling shadowy monstrosities from beyond.

It was then that we made our second mistake, in explaining this difficulty we asked for help.

And we got it.

Professor Bentham was not au fait with any of the fields necessary for our work, only with ‘Gender Studies’, but since she simply disappeared into the stacks and did not bother us this was little worry.

More concerning by far was the application – which we could not deny – of a foreign student, a pygmy or ‘little person’ which I’m given to understand is the preferred term – of the Tcho-Tcho tribe, originally from Tibet before their diaspora.

Na-Na, for that was his name, much to the amusement of Professor Abernathy, was a problem from the start. He would scurry, disconcertingly, through the stacks and leap out at the most inopportune moments. When he attacked Professor Carnegie with a blowpipe and dragged him off into the stacks, never to be seen again, we protested only to be told that was his culture and we should not be so judgemental, that we should ‘decolonise our attitudes’ towards his rich heritage. Even when we found a human hand, gnawn upon, laid atop a leather-bound folio of The Yellow Sign, which we suspected to belong to Professor Carnegie, nothing was done. ‘Dietary requirements of his culture’ we were told.

We had other problems by then of course. Female interns from the Gender Studies course who had joined our group as aides and researchers walked out en masse having read – in passing – a tome of ritual magic attributed to Dr Dee and having taken offence at talk of esoteric principles of ‘maleness’ and ‘femaleness’ utilised in the rituals within. They would listen to no explanation and it mattered not one jot to them that this was centuries old.

Thanks to them to university paper ran an ‘expose’ on us as a hotbed of sexism and we were besieged by constant protest, culminating in the pulling of a fire alarm as part of the protest. In the ensuing confusion with the fire brigade over a century’s worth of meticulously referenced knowledge was lost, along with many first editions. A great loss to our great work.

Besieged by angry furies, sniped at constantly by a cannibalistic half-man and with our work exposed to the world we did the best we could as the stars began to turn right.

During our most delicate preparations Professor Bentham made herself known to us again, forgotten for so long. Only she was different, she had degenerated – no, sorry, transitioned – into something other, an avatar of Shub-PoCurath (you can’t say the ‘N’ word or anything that sounds like it). Hooved. Tentacled. A hundred breasts and dozens of gaping, suppurating vaginas covered the knotted trunk of her body, indistinguishable from her many babbling mouths.

Professor Abernathy attempted, heroically to intercede and shove her back into the stacks. We thought he had been devoured, but it was worse.

The next day we were awash with campus police and a worried looking person from the office of the Dean. Professor Abernathy was being held up on molestation charges. In the struggle his hands had touched at least four breasts and three vaginas and Professor Bentham, now operating under the preferred pronoun of ‘Ia’ was holding him up on rape charges.

The siege – and the fire alarms – began again.

Despite all this, as the stars came right, we held out hope that we could stave off the end. We had everything prepared, meticulously, to heal the tear in the world that would admit the dark ones to this reality. All we needed was a virginal incantrix for the climax of the ritual. We had a volunteer and at the right moment she recited the words perfectly, but nothing happened.

There could only have been one possible cause, and she had cost us the world through her dishonestly.

But, apparently, that was slut shaming.

So now, as a black sun devours the sky and shadow tentacles devastate the planet, as the campus police come to arrest me for insensitivity, even as our world comes to an end, the conspiracy becomes clear.

We were the victims of a new cult, a cult that listens and believes, a cult that will live on until the very end because they made a deal with the dark powers beyond.

#KillAllMen

Or at least #KillMenFirst

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Stain is your stereotypical washed-up cop. He’s good for nothing, surfing a life of indolence and drunkenness on past glories until he can get to retirement. Then, weirdly, he gets given a serious and important case and may have to reassess his life and career.

Stain is one of a series of ‘neopulp’ short stories I have written, updating the pulp tropes of the 20s-40s with a more modern sensibility, though not necessarily a more modern setting.

You can buy Stain HERE.

It is also bundled with my other short stories HERE

It will be available on other vendors (Lulu, Kindle etc, soon).

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july-15-08It’s home. This damp, tired little room that reeks of stale sweat, shit and fear. It hides us from the sky, which is something, not that I think it does us any good. This is it, the whole wide world reduced down to two-hundred square feet of misery and darkness, the dim light of a novelty LED torch, the slow bubble of slop buckets and on every surface the weird scratchings Hope has made.

Of all the people in the station, it’s Hope I saved. I don’t know why. I don’t even know how old she is or her real name. I know nothing about her at all and she’s not one for talking. Not since I met her. I think she was a writer, a secretary or a personal assistant. Her purse had a notebook in it, filled with scrawl, but I couldn’t read her handwriting.

Now she squats by the wall and draws on it, endlessly, with children’s chalks we took from one of the little station shops. She’s worn two sets down to nothing, covering the room with her spirals and swirls. Sometimes it looks a little like the sky, when it broke.

I saw it, when I ventured to the surface to see what all the panic was about. People were crowding into the stations to get away from it. Rebelling against what they saw, like insects running away from the light. The street was worse, half the people staring slack-jawed into the seething sky, others clawing at their eyes.

When I looked up, against all reason, the sky was a riot of colour and motion. Like the coloured images of nebulae and galaxies that they used to show on the television. The stars moved and slide, the sun seemed to dim. It made no sense and yet everyone could see it. Then space itself broke and from the fractures threads and tendrils came and began to pluck people up from where they stood.

There was something malevolent about them. The way they toyed with people, pulled them away on the brink of safety, pierced children to use them as bait. Some tried to fight, but for every tendril they destroyed two took their place.

I had the key to the back rooms of the station. Late at night there weren’t many others but me. I don’t know what made me take her. She was the nearest person stumbling by the door when I unlocked it. I suppose I just didn’t want to be alone but with a silent, staring maniac who never seems to sleep, I might as well be alone.

The buckets needed emptying. I’d been putting it off for days. A diet of snack-shop chocolate and cola hadn’t been doing us much good, especially eked out so much to make it last. It made the buckets even more foul than they had any right to be. That and even leaving the room had become terrifying beyond reason.

Boredom and fear. Eventually one wins out over the other.

I left Hope to her scratchings on the wall and took the heavy weight of the buckets. I clasped another torch between my teeth and elbowed out of the door. Dead escalators are hard to navigate in the pitch darkness, especially carrying buckets. There are shoes and bags, left in the rush. The people have long since disappeared but the civilised skins they shed in their panic are still there to trip me up.

The station is slowly flooding. Inch by inch, day by day. I don’t reach the bottom before I find the water. A foul brew of bodies, rags and the shit I’ve dumped here week by week, day by day while we survive. I don’t even see the rats or the mice here any more. A shame. A rat would make a welcome change from a Snickers bar at this point.
I empty the buckets and ‘rinse’ them as best I can. Sitting on the lowest step I dare to get my breath back before I head back up.

Something ripples in the water. Another body bobbing to the surface? No. Tiny waves lap against the shore and them with a gurgling slurp a bloated corpse is dragged beneath the surface. In the bluish LED light a shadowed shape beneath the muck shifts and twists and then, the panic finally pushing me to move, I turn, leave the buckets and run. Scrambling up the steps on hands and feet as fast as I can until I get back to the room and slam the door shut, weeping.

Nowhere is safe. Not really.

I slump against the wall and slide down, tears tracking lines through the dirt on my face. My jacket smears Hope’s drawings, something that normally freaks her out, but this time she just silently paces over to me and touches my hand.

It’s simple human touch, but it’s not something I’ve felt in days, weeks, however long we’ve been down here with no clocks, no day or night, no way to mark the time save by the number of times we sleep. I look at her and it’s strange to see her face so changed.

She has dark rings around her eyes from lack of sleep, and I do not blame her because the nightmares that come when I close my eyes make death seem like a good option. Still, despite that, she looks younger than when I first saw her. Softer, the innocence of a broken mind giving a softness to her face and body that was never there before. I caught sight of myself in a patch of clear water some time back, my body – despite all the chocolate – has been sculpted by hardship into the kind of slender muscle people would have paid a fortune for.

I touch her filthy cheek and sniff, blinking away more tears.

Dare I?

It would be like taking advantage of a child. She’s mad, insane, a mute with no voice and taking care of her gives me no right. But she is also soft, and warm and human and, for all I know, we are the last two people alive in all the world. Just to feel close and safe would be…

…she kisses me. Kissing away the tears as a mother would her son. Did she have children I wonder? Where are they now if they are anywhere? The touch seems to awaken something else in her and she makes an inarticulate sound and clumsily kisses my mouth.

I try to turn away, this isn’t right still, somehow. A betrayal of trust. I look after her, for no reason, simply because it is the right and human thing to do. The human thing to do. A warm, human, with no desire to kill me, with soft lips. Even the stinking breath and the stale-sweat smell of us is human. The air everywhere else has this strange, chemical, tide-line edge to it that chokes your throat like chlorine.

I don’t know that I’d have looked at Hope before everything went wrong. Here she’s the last woman on Earth and I am the last man. I have no illusions about my worth either, but we are here and she is still kissing me and I cannot resist. For my mind, for my body, for the sake of a fleeting moment of pleasure in a world of pain I let my reservations collapse.

Fingers cut through grime. Damp clothes peel away from soft and yielding skin. A human sweat, a human stink, a human taste. Was this what pleasure was like? I barely remember. Candy and soft drink would have been a pleasure back before all this, now its a chore. Warmth, softness, these have been lost to us for so long, both of us. I touch her back, slide my hands around her, find the suppleness of breasts to match the softness of her mouth and kneeling, her astride my lap, riding with naïve eagerness, we clutch and cling to each other in the old dance and damn the world beyond the walls.

She takes me and I lose myself within her. I take her, on her hands and knees atop our grubby blankets. She takes what I have to give and gives what I offer. Innocent eyes and soft features hide a ravenous body as starved of affection, pleasure and wonder as I have been. Every orgasm is a light against the darkness. Every gush of cum or wave of pleasure a defiant light against the darkness.

It makes it tolerable, down here, to fuck and rut in the darkness. To sleep together in warmth. A little camp-fire of affection and humanity, however flawed. Is this what passes for love now? Taking care of someone? Is this what we used to be? Hiding out in caves from the monsters. The brave ape-man protecting his mate and daring the world beyond to provide?

I can’t go out though. The world is dead, so far as either of us know or care to know. The food is almost gone and there is nothing more I can. Nothing more to find. There are things in the water that rises every day. No rats, no mice, not so much as an insect. There’s only us and a knife to my own throat is the only way I have anything left to give.

For hope.

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A jolly Wild West tale, just in time for ‘Good Riddance Day’.

An Englishman abroad in the Wild West will find himself hard-pressed to remain a gentleman. Still, there’s a steel in such men that formed an Empire and the cattlemen of the new frontier should know better than to tangle with an Englishman when his dander’s up.

DrivethruFiction

Smashwords

Lulu

And coming soon(ish) to Amazon and other eBook stores for your devices.

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I think my next project, once my brain sorts itself out, will be a collection of short genre-erotica. The idea’s been teasing at me and I intend to do the same sort of format that I did for the pulp stories. That is, approximately 6k stories with approximately 1.5k word ‘episodes’ in four parts forming the story as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll post the pre-edited versions here as I did before, but I might.

The current plan, subject to change, would be:

  1. The Other Woman – An espionage story about a female agent of particular talent and deadly ability.
  2. Tiger Bone – An adventure story about tourists running afoul of tiger poachers.
  3. The Lady in the Castle – A fantasy story about a spoiled brat of a maid waiting in her tower for her prince to come.
  4. Cold Hands – A horror story or ‘paranormal romance’ in which a woman takes a vampire for her lover but things don’t turn out sparkles and rainbows.
  5. No Refuge – A ‘grande guignol’ mystery in which an adulterous lover is betrayed by his unconscious mind.
  6. Heart of Glass – A detective story in which our detective tries to track down a gang of jewel thieves known for using sex as a weapon.
  7. Have a Heart – A science fiction story about a jealous robot.
  8. Conqueror of the Clouds – A steampunk story of an amazing airship and its unconventional captain.
  9. Iron in the Fire – A western story about an ambitious saloon girl dealing with her competition.
  10. Debt before Dishonour – A fantasy story in which a sell-sword finds himself on the slave blocks of Khem.
  11. The Ambassador – A science fiction story about the obsequiousness of humanity in serving a more advanced race.
  12. The Suitor – A horror story about a very persistent suitor.

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The next in my line of neo-pulp stories.

Wild explores the theme of the jungle hero, but from a different perspective than you might be used to.

The jungle still holds secrets. Some of them are dangerous, even deadly. Some of them defy our modern understanding. Some of them, like the pale, ghostly girl who runs through the trees, can save your life.

Lulu

Smashwords

DrivethruFiction

Coming to Amazon and other outlets within the next 24 hours or so. Search for my name or the title.

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Genealogy is a fascinating subject.

What, though, if it takes you back to the ‘old country’ and to a town that no longer exists. What can you learn from a crumbling cliff and a village sunk beneath the waves?

Smashwords

Lulu

Drivethrufiction

Amazon

Also available in a bundle with my other ‘neo-pulp’ stories.

Soon available on iBookstore etc. Just search for my name or the title.

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