Beyond Light and Dark
Written way back in the mid-to-late 80's after staying up very late reading HPL stories. It was about 2:00 AM, the window was open slightly and a chilly breeze was moaning through the window-screen into my bedroom. I was getting sleepy and contemplating the curious spacial/temporal qualities of Yog-Sothoth. Just for kicks, I once submitted this to one of those poetry contests they advertise in some magazines. It didn't win. One of the judges wrote me back that it was "a very allusive and intriguing poem."
Written several years ago, early 90's, after reading (of course) The Cats of Ulthar. I have occasionally written poems or song lyrics that were inspired by stories or books that struck me just right. I like cats, and this has always been one of my favorite HPL stories. Sometimes a poem will come to me in a single rush in inspiration, and if I recall correctly, this was one of them. This was the first thing I ever submitted to an e-zine, just before writing Seafoam. The good feedback I received from it encouraged me to write more, and is one big reason why I'm doing all this.
The Festival was one of the first HPL stories I ever read as a young teenager, and it has been one of my favorites ever since. I wanted to write a Lovecraftian Christmas poem, and this story was a good inspiration for such a poem. Strangely enough, I have another poem that was originally titled "Yulefest" (as one word) that has nothing to do with HPL but is rather a sort of pagan-ish Yule poem, written in the late 80's. I even submitted it to Weird Tales (it was rejected). It will probably turn up again, most likely here on my own site, but will have a different title to prevent confusion with this poem.
Yuggoth on the Rim
This poem was a long time coming. The phrase "Yuggoth on the rim" has been lurking in my head for a long time, just waiting to be turned into a poem. I put a rhyming dictionary and a conventional dictionary to heavy use to come up with all those rhymes for "rim." I don't think I'm finished with the mysterious Yuggoth just yet, it will probably turn up in a story eventually.
On the Shore by the Ocean
I like images that deal with darkness, moonlight, oceans and dreams. This poem was partly inspired by Robert E. Howard's Singer in the Mist.
Where the Moon is Always Gibbous
I just couldn't think of enough rhymes for "-ight". So one stanza doesn't exactly fit the pattern. Oh well. One night on the long drive home from work the phrase popped into my head, "Where the moon is always gibbous/and the stars are always right." It sounded good enough to base a poem on, and eventually I did.
Nyarlathotep and Me
This story was written in the late 80's not long after I had read the SubGenius short story collection, Three-Fisted Tales of "Bob". As anyone who is familiar with the "SubGenius Mythos" knows, Cthulhu and his nefarious minions occasionally pop up in SubGenius mythology. This was one of my earliest attempts at writing a "Mythos" story, and it seemed if anyone could save the world from the Old Ones, it would be "Bob." I only hope it isn't heresy to write in first person from "Bob's" point of view. There are some things in this story that don't make much sense unless the reader is familiar with SubGenius lore. I hope the reader realizes that this story was also written somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I frequently get story ideas that begin with a final sentence or sentences, and then I try to write a story aiming for that final passage. This is one of them. Some readers may also recognize in this story a sort of parody of the Biblical David and Goliath.
I have had Internet access since about 1993, so it has been a few years since I first looked up H.P. Lovecraft in a search engine and found Donovan Loucks H.P. Lovecraft Archive. I would re-visit it occasionally to read up on things about HPL that were new to me, but other than that I never really looked for anything else Lovecraftian on the web. In September or October of 1997 I got the urge to read HPL again, so one day I got into a search engine and looked some stuff up. This led me to the e-zines like Nightscapes and Mythos Online, which I read eagerly, excited at the prospect of some new Mythos-oriented stories. After reading some of the stories, I thought, hmmm, I can probably do this. Out of this came what I consider my first real Mythos story (pastiche though it is), Seafoam. I wanted to do something a little different, but it seemed that there were way too many black books lying around and turning up here and there, so I decided to try for a new artifact instead of a book. From this eventually came the strange black meerschaum pipe. Meerschuam is an ancient material that spent a lot of time beneath the ocean before ever being dredged up into the light of day, so it seemed logical to me that there would be an ancient, cursed pipe somewhere. I feel that many things are better left unknown, so I didn't worry about the origin or the creator of this pipe, I just tried to write about the consequences of using it. The character Grimm is an old character. He began as a CoC character and was in a couple of early writings that will probably not ever see the light of day, but he will turn up in future stories (at least one so far--"The Owls").
I tried to write this story several times since I first began trying to write sometime in the late 80's. The different versions of the story had several different kinds of characters and points of view, but all were more or less based on the legends of the strange entity that is said to dwell in Ottine Swamp and is simply called "the Thing." This last time that I tried this story, I just scrapped all the previous versions and started over from scratch, which led to Darker. Some of the encounters that the character of Uncle Jonas tells about are adapted from "real life"--things which various people have said they've seen in the swamp. Many years ago I had the idea that it would be really neat to collect a lot of local legends, and write a short account of the actual legend, followed by a fictional work based on that legend. Darker is one of two stories (see "The Owls", below) to come out of that. Ottine Swamp lies between the forks of the Guadalupe and San Marcos Rivers about 50 miles south of Austin, Texas, near the small community of Ottine which is several miles northwest of Gonzales, Texas, about an hour's drive from where I live.
More of a vignette than a story, written after reading both "The Curse of Yig" and Ron Shiflet's "The Serpents of Tenoka." I had only recently acquired two Carroll & Graf paperbacks that included a lot of the ghost-written HPL stories (such as "The Curse of Yig"), and so had just become acquainted with the snake-god Yig. I was trying to write a Mythos story that took place in the Old West and Yig seemed like a good candidate for such a story. The main character (Dr. A. Herman Thripshaw) is supposed to be a Serpent-Man. I know almost nothing about those critters so I don't know if anyone will recognize him as such or not. I stole his name from a Monty Python skit (Dr. E. Henry Thripshaw's New Disease).
This story could have gone two ways, but I won't talk about the other option because I might still use it sometime. Still another attempt to write a Mythos story that takes place in the Old West, I got the idea from part of The Shadow Over Innsmouth that mentions that the Deep Ones were probably in Innsmouth before the war. I figured that it wouldn't be entirely unlikely that a couple of human/Deep One hybrids actually fought in the Civil War, and not only that, but why should there be only one colony of Deep One hybrids in the United States? I had originally titled this story "Deep South," but then decided that it would probably give away the whole story just because of the word "Deep" in the title. I also consulted an atlas when deciding on where this family should live, and found that there is an island off the coast of Louisiana called Marsh Island. I briefly considered placing the story there but thought that would also give it away as soon as the reader saw the word "Marsh." So I just put them in an unnamed place somewhere near the coast of southeast Texas.
Personally, I think I could have done this story better if I hadn't messed around and waited until the last minute to finish it up. I had the germ of an idea for a long time, but got some writer's block until just a few days before the deadline (to submit it for Ron Shiflet's Old West Mythos contest). This story meant three Old West Mythos stories in a row for me, so I think it will be a while before I do another one, unless a new idea really strikes my fancy. All the rivers, creeks, and other landmarks in this story really exist. The caverns of the title are actually Longhorn Caverns, which are in the heart of the Texas hill country several miles west of Burnet. It really was used by the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and it also was really used as a hideout by the outlaw Sam Bass (and he really did die there). I took some liberties describing the inside of the caverns, and didn't cover all the details. There are actually three different openings in the ceilings of the caverns (not including the main entrance), not just one. Before it became a tourist attraction, it was the home of a great many Mexican free-tailed bats. There is a small opening at the rear of the last cavern, or room (which is not really one of the rooms with a ceiling opening--I made that up), that is not part of the guided tour and can only be explored by spelunkers--so I personally have never been in there. According to the guide's information, that last cavern opens up on what may be the largest underground lake in North America, and as the guide said, "no one knows how far back it goes." The tunnel that the main character (Karl Sommer) thinks of as "the Chimney" doesn't really exist. The lake is the home to two unique species--one of crayfish, and the other of catfish--which are both blind and nearly transparent. Karl Sommer is based very loosely on my great-grandfather, who settled in the Burnet area after emigrating from Germany and who used to green-break wild mustangs so he could take them to San Antonio and sell to the ranchers to turn into cattle horses. The upper parts of the caverns were well known by many people such as Sam Bass, the Confederate Army, and others, but my great-grandfather was one of the first to explore the nether depths of the caverns and a distant, long-departed relative of mine carved her name on a rock inside one of the lower rooms. The monster in this story should be recognizeable as one of HPL's unnamed creations. The site for the big livestock auctions was adjacent to the Menger Hotel (the hotel still exists). Enchanted Rock is also an actual place and visiting there is always quite an experience. The last few sentences of this story were stolen from another of my very old stories, which had nothing whatsoever to do with horror or the Mythos.
This is another story (like Darker, above) that is based on a local area legend and, like Darker, I first tried to write a long time ago. It has gone through several permutations before it became the version you see here. About the only thing that remains from the original are the last few lines, as I remember them. The typed copy of the original was lost at some point, which probably isn't a bad thing. To read a short, non-fictional article about the Lechuza that was written by myself in the late 80's, click here. Parts of this story were also inspired by owls that I have heard.
What Is Within You...
I have always thought that the night-gaunt is one of the most mysterious and interesting creatures that HPL ever created. They were based on some of his own nightmares and were found in his "dreamland" stories such as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Most of Lovecraft's monsters have some purpose, though it may be beyond the understanding of mere humans, or a purpose that is completely malevolent toward humanity. The night-gaunts, however, may be the most unexplained and unexplainable of all his creations. They don't seem to be necessarily malevolent, yet they are definitely alien and probably not comprehensible in human terms. I guess this is why I try to work a mention of them into some of my poems, and I wanted to try and write a story about them in some way. It was after this story was mostly finished that I was reading a book on various Bible-related subjects, and came across the quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas that heads the story. It seemed to fit well with the story I was trying to write, so I included it as a sort of introduction. As for the "old book" mentioned in the story, I will leave its identity up to the reader's imagination. However, if I was pressed for information on it, I would say that it definitely is not the Necronomicon.
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It didn't take me as long to write another Old West story as I thought it would. Written in December 1998. While trying to write two other stories this one kept lurking in the back of my mind, so I finally gave up trying to suppress it and just wrote it. "Lamentry" is a word that just popped into my head while listening to the Peter, Paul, & Mary song "Lemon Tree." There are a couple of references in this story. The name Lovey Phillips should be easy for anyone to figure out. The name Evan Zager is from the 60's rock duo Zager & Evans, who had the one-hit wonder "In the Year 2525." I intend for the tall dark stranger to be a recurring character in future stories set in the Old West. The reader may decide on what his exact identity is, because I'm not telling (and I haven't really decided yet).
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