Merkabah Rider: Once Upon A Time In The Weird West is once again available.

Hey all, the reissue of the final Merkabah Rider book, Merkabah Rider: Once Upon A Time In The Weird West, is now available.

Published in: on May 20, 2020 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tails of Terror from Golden Goblin Press

tailsofterror

Another Golden Goblin Press Lovecraftian anthology, this one concerning the exploits of H.P.’s favorite animal companions, felines and featuring

  • Derpyfoot by Christine Morgan
  • The Cat in the Pall by Pete Rawlik
  • Ghost Story by Brian M. Sammons
  • Palest of Humans by Don Webb
  • Bats in the Belfry by William Meikle
  • Satisfaction Brought Him Back by Glynn Owen Barrass
  • The Bastet Society by Sam Stone
  • The Veil of Dreams by Stephen Mark Rainey
  • The Quest of Pumpkin the Brave by Oscar Rios
  • The Cats of the Rue d’Auseil by Neil Baker
  • The Knowledge of the Lost Master by Andi Newton
  • The Ruins of an Endless City by Lee Clark Zumpe
  • A Glint in the Eyes by D.A. Madigan
  • A Field Guide to Wanderlust Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
  • In the End there is a Drain by Tim Waggoner
My story, Brown Jenkins’ Reckoning, is a follow up to Dreams In The Witch House, and posits the ultimate fate of its most infamous character.

Told from the point of view of the cats of Arkham, who have taken note of an uptick in activity and viciousness by the local rats, all centering on the abandoned Witch House. my story follows a stray cat, a master of the ninth incarnation who proposes to the dream council at Ulthar a plan to defeat the malevolent entity behind the incursions.

I had fun with this one. I like cats. I like dogs too, I’m not one of those people who has to choose. But as I can’t fathom picking up after a dog and I like having companions who don’t need me around twenty four seven, I like cats more.

Here’s an excerpt.

As some men dream of Dylath-Leen and the marble walls of lost Sarnath, all cats dream of Ulthar, the little cobblestone village on the winding River Skai where no cat may be harmed.

The dreaming cats of Arkham met in Ulthar at the old temple on the hill, in the little stone amphitheater-shrine whose top tier was arranged with graven images of the Elder Gods of Earth. The clowder seated itself before the greening brass statues of their patrons, Uldar, and the cat-headed goddess Bast, to discuss the depradations of the rats of Arkham, which had, for unknown reasons, intensified as of late.

The old priest Atal filled the stone bowls of the twelve respected master cats of the ninth incarnation with cream.

One of the housecats, a regal Maine coon spoke;

“The rats are on the offensive. Many new holes gnawed in the homes of man, particularly in French Hill. Food stolen. There are even little bites on the limbs of the sleeping children.”

Children sometimes wandered into the Dreamlands in their carefree slumber, and it was the duty of cats to guide them out again, to keep them safe from the various minions of the Outer God Nyarlathotep, who would steal them for vile ends. This oath of child-herding extended into the waking world.  It was a matter quite serious to the cats, particularly those fortunate to have human homes.

“Why are the mousers not curbing this behavior?” demanded a haughty, fat orange housecat.

“If it is the rats doing these things,” said one of the alley cats, a mangy tabby of the fifth generation, “then they are moving by avenues we cannot tell. The humans have not been idle. They’ve been blowing poison down into the rat nests for weeks. Most of the warrens have emptied into the hills west of town.”

“It’s not a rat,” said a voice from the shoulder of the statue of Bast. “Though I’d be amazed if any fat bellied housecat could hear a rat lapping from his milk bowl in the kitchen over the sound of their own complacent purring.”

A rough looking tomcat, nip-eared, broad shouldered, the color of pipe smoke with white socks, jumped down from his high perch on the statue and went to the center of the shrine. He bore some limp, bleeding shape in his teeth, which he deposited on the floor for all to see.

It was a rat, and it had been subjected to such tortures as only a half-feral alley cat can devise.  The tomcat laid one paw on its back.

This tomcat was notorious across the neighborhoods of Arkham as a scrapper and a night yowler, a scavenging rover who had sired kittens as far away as Innsmouth.  He was also grudgingly recognized as the best mouser in the Miskatonic Valley.

Yet he was also a master of the ninth incarnation, the only one among the alley cats. Only a master could drag the dream avatar of another creature all the way to Ulthar. By their ninth and final incarnation, most cats, having lived several lifetimes of adventures, were content to settle into extended retirement like pampered mandarins, safely exploring their future Dreamland abode from the comfort of some warm human house where they could safely sleep all day, undisturbed in a forgotten hutch.

Not so, this tomcat. His behavior befuddled the other masters, for he had not attended a clowder in the Dreamlands in recent memory. In the waking world, he slashed the knuckles of hands that sought to stroke him, and pissed on proffered bedding. He would rather lie dead in a road than on his back in a soft lap. No one knew where he slept.

Beneath his paw, the mangled rat twitched. The cats licked their chops at its squeal, tasting fear.

“Tell them,” the tomcat hissed.

“Brown Jenkin!” squeaked the rat.

No photo description available.The cats stirred uneasily. The reputation of the creature called Brown Jenkin, the prowling monster rat with the heads and hands of a man, vile familiar to the witch Keziah Mason, servant of the Outer Dark, was well known. Keziah and Brown Jenkin, fugitives of the Salem trials, had haunted Arkham from the upper rooms of the Stinking House on the corner of Pickman and Parsonage for three hundred years, stealing out in the dead of night to snatch children to bleed on the altars of the Old Ones.

“The witch is dead, and her pet with her,” said the Maine coon dismissively.

This was true. The violet witch light had not been seen in the upper windows of the Stinking House for many months. Even the old landlord had at last abandoned it.

“You’re wrong,” wheezed the rat, sounding slightly pleased, even in his pathetic state, to know more than the cats. “Brown Jenkin lives!”

“Tell them the rest,” urged the tomcat, spreading his claws.

 

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Published in: on May 18, 2020 at 11:57 am  Leave a Comment  

By Unknown Hands In Shadows Of An Inner Darkness from Golden Goblin Press

I’m pleased to be appearing in another Golden Goblin Press anthology.
innerdarkness

When the dark and malevolent forces of the Cthulhu Mythos gaze upon mankind’s inhumanity towards his fellow man, it casts a long and dark shadow from our own inner darkness. These seven stories explore such shadows, with tales of all-too-familiar evils further darkened by the corruption of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Shadows of an Inner Darkness: Stories of the Struggle Against Eldritch Horrors & Our Own Inhumanity – Edited by Brian Sammons

The Parkland Experiments by William Meikle—When a Doctor begins performing chemical and surgical eugenics experiments on prisoners at Parkland Correctional Facility, the results take an unexpected and otherworldly turn, resulting in horrific consequences.
Carrion Crows by Peter Rawlik—In the aftermath of a terrible hurricane, John Crow is pressed into service with a work gang to recover the dead and bury them in mass graves. The terrible experience changes him, quite literally, forever.

A Ghastly Industry by Lee Clark Zumpe—A couple fleeing from a lynch mob in central Florida takes unlikely refuge in a moldering manor. However, they land in the middle of a family dispute between a desperate young man and his ancient undying grandmother.
The Last Appointment by Oscar Rios—An Arkam doctor is kidnapped after performing an illegal medical procedure on a terribly deformed man from the shunned town of Innsmouth. His patient’s family has some questions and his life depends on the answers.
Man of the House by Christine Morgan—A fabulously wealthy man rules over a houseful of his female relations. He controls their fortunes and keeps them prisoners to his abhorrent desires. But it’s a New Age; women have the vote now, and the time has come for a change.
Heart Mountain by Glynn Owen Barrass —With Executive Order 9066, young Aiko and her family are forcibly taken to Heart Mountain, a detention camp for Japanese Americans. There she discovers a hidden diary and learns the camp has been used before.

My offering, By Unknown Hands, tells the story of a pair of murderous conmen in 1920’s Oklahoma duping and murdering Osage Indians out of their oil rights.

It’s inspired by the actual Osage Indian killings, most recently depicted in David Grann’s Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and The Birth of The FBI.

Grann’s book details the far reaching and long running conspiracy by Anglo businessmen and officials to undermine Native rights to lucrative oil wells discovered beneath their treaty allotted land, previously thought worthless.

Sometimes I write out of catharsis, and after that infuriating read, I needed it. Of course, using the tools of Lovecraft (and Zealia Bishop), I can put those who escaped justice in the path of the inevitable. Sometimes the apathetic forces that inhabit the Outer Dark do justice by accident. In this case, I tied history to the Mythos via what was previously set forth in the posthumously published The Mound.

Here’s an excerpt.

————————————————————

I never set out to kill no Indians. It was just something I fell into.

After the war, I came back to Tulsa County to find my old maw dead and gone, and our Sooner land sold off to the oil company. I don’t know who they paid for it, but it wasn’t me. The house was just gone, which explains why none of my letters were ever answered.

I worked for a while as a wildcatter, but that got to feeling too much like being back in the Army. Most jobs did, when you got right down to it. I had brought home a deep unease with me that I just couldn’t shed. Thunder made me jump inside, and open spaces made me fret. I had little patience for men, women, and beasts. Though I had cropped my hair short since I was a boy, it was like somehow they could smell the Indian in me. Maybe it was all that sun from working outside. I left a lot of them bleeding.

In late summer ’21 I drifted west, headed for California, but got tripped up by the Osage Hills and wound up on a ranch on the west edge of the big Indian reservation, manning a 500 gallon copper still for a fellow named Henry Grammer, the world steer roping champion and the biggest bootlegger around.

There were some rough customers among Grammer’s bunch, many who had been bank and train robbers in their day.

One of them, a wind-burned older fellow with nickel blue eyes and an easy manner named Casey Matheson approached me one day while I sat smoking under the blackjack.

“Where are you from, boy?” he asked.

“Berryhill,” I answered, “and leave out that ‘boy’ talk.”

There was threat in that, but he didn’t seem to mind.

“You ain’t no moonshiner,” he went on. “What’d you do before?”

“All kinds of things.”

“You was in the Army though.”

“How’d you know that?”

“You just got that look about you. Makin’ shine don’t fit your pistol, does it?”

“Nothing much does anymore,” I said, tossing my butt away.

“I bet you don’t like sleepin’ in that bunkhouse neither.”

All Grammer’s employees slept in the ranch bunkhouse off the main house, cowboy and moonshiner alike. It was drafty, and the Negro handyman was stingy with caulk, boards, and nails.

“You see that car over there?” Casey said, pointing to a grey Bearcat I had seen about the place once in a while. “That’s a thirty nine hundred dollar automobile, and I got it for a day’s work.”

“Running shine?”

He laughed.

“Hell no. Killin’ Indians.”

He watched me for a minute, gauging my reaction. I tensed for a fight, but said nothing.

“You know how to drive?” he asked.

I did.

“You wanna take a ride?”

It beat squatting over the still.

My hands shuddered on the wheel till we left the gravel drive behind and hit the pavement. I opened her up and whipped those 6-cylinders to galloping, leaving the blackjack hills behind. I hadn’t moved this fast in years. The wind blew over me, roaring in my ears, and those big empty plains of bluestem and spiderwort flew past. I lost my hat, but I didn’t care.

After a bit, Casey waved for me to pull over so he could be heard.

He lit a cigarette, offered me one. I saw he was missing the last two fingers on his left hand.

“Meanin’ no offense, but you got some Indian in you, don’t you?”

I took the cigarette, stared at him. I had a great-grandfather on my mother’s side who was Choctaw.

“Berryhill,” the old man mused, when I didn’t say anything. “What’re you? Quarter Cherokee?”

“Eighth Choc,” I allowed, waiting to see if I’d have to lay him out.

He nodded and waved his cigarette across the big empty prairie, trailing smoke.

“We’re on the Osage reservation now. You notice anything?”

I put my foot on the running board and looked. I could see far, to the towns northeast; to Fairfax and Grey Horse. In between were clunking derricks, laboring like giant metal picks rising and falling on the earth.
The Osage Nation is moving forward but not forgetting a violent ...

“Just oil.”

“That’s right,” said Casey, grinning. “That’s sharp. Most folks’d say ‘nothing.’ Government shuffled these Indians around, stuck ‘em on the barest, rockiest patch of nothing they could find. Only they didn’t figure on what was underneath it. Devil’s tar. Lakes and lakes of it. The Underground Reservation. And the lawyers fixed it so every full-blooded member of the Osage tribe got headrights. Six hundred and fifty seven acres, every man, woman, and child, and mineral rights for leasin’ to the oil companies.” He spat. “Devil must’ve been runnin’ the government back then. Come on, Buckwheat, let’s go into Pawhuska. I wanna show you something.”

We drove thirty minutes along the state highway into the county seat. You could swear we were in Kansas City by the amount of cars going up and down the paved streets. It seemed like every sedan we passed had a white or a Negro driver and an Indian riding in back. The sidewalks were lined with suited Indian men in clean white Stetsons and tall silk hats, some of them trailing blanketed squaws, others with wives in full length beaver coats, their crow black plaits dangling down from under stylish, sequined cloche hats like real St. Louis ladies.

“Just look at ‘em,” Casey growled. “Struttin’ about like red roosters. And every one of ‘em’s got a price on their head. Head downtown.”

We passed a big brown brick building with a tall, wide elm next to it. Stretched out below in the shade was a passel of Indians and well-dressed white men. There was an auctioneer in a skimmer and shirt sleeves calling out rapid fire to the crowd. Parked out front were rows of limousines, the uniformed chauffeurs smoking and chatting.

“Tribal Council House. That there’s the Million Dollar Elm,” said Casey, chin on his elbow, propped on the door of the car. “Better fruit than any apple tree you ever saw. Today it’s ripe. Today’s the day the oil men come out to buy leases. Look at ‘em. Thousands…millions of dollars changing hands. Old John Paul Getty himself’s been under that tree.”

We drove by, continuing down into the residential neighborhood. The old man pointed to the sprawling mansions, two story brick houses with papooses rolling in the green grass yards.

“Look at all they got!” Casey fairly hissed beside me. “Tell me, what’d the Yankees give the Chocs, Buckwheat? Hell, what’d they give you for catchin’ Hun bullets? You got a house like that back in Berryhill?”

The forgotten murders of the Osage people for the oil beneath ...

Not even when I’d had a house. It had been a drafty two room cabin and maw had brought the pigs in to keep ‘em from freezing in the winter.

I pulled over outside of town. You could still hear the cars guzzling up and down main street.

“You don’t need to sell me,” I said. After driving all this way, seeing all this, I didn’t cotton to going back to the bunkhouse. “How does killin’ ‘em make you any money?”

“You know what a blood quantum is?” said the old man.

How much Indian blood a fella had. I nodded.

“State evaluates every Indian, appoints a white guardian to anybody full or even quarter blood. Basically it’s a check-signer, usually a lawyer, whose job is to keep ‘em spendin’ their money responsibly. Guardian gets a monthly percentage, usually a hundred bucks or so. Sometimes they got ten or twelve Indians to look after. Lotta places for money to slip through. And they make a deal with the white merchants, to overcharge the Osage and split the difference. If you can get in that system, shit, Buckwheat, you’re set for life.”

“And if you can’t?” Because it was plain this old train robber wasn’t part of that system.

“Oh,” Casey said, grinning, “I got friends who are in it. Bankers, merchants, a rancher. Rich folks. And rich folks is hungrier even than you and me. They’ll pay more than we ever seen just to get a little more of what they got. See, tribal members can’t sell to nobody out of the tribe. Headrights is inherited. So if you bump off a rich buck, any kin he might have, marry his woman…”

“I dunno,” I said. “Seems complicated.”

“It is. But I don’t do the figurin and I don’t do the goddamned marryin.’” He reached into the side pocket of the door and pulled out a broom-handled Mauser. He leered at me like it was his peter. “I still do just fine.”

Well, I didn’t want to go back to that drafty goddamn bunkhouse.
In The 1920s, A Community Conspired To Kill Native Americans For ...
Pick up a copy of Shadows Of An Inner Darkness here – https://www.goldengoblinpress.com/store/#!/Shadows-of-an-Inner-Darkness-Print-Format/p/196568586/category=14026709

 

Published in: on May 4, 2020 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Isle of The White Lady in Tales of Cthulhu Invictus: Britannia

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/golden-goblin-press/britannia-and-beyond-a-regional-guide-for-cthulhu-invictus

Golden Goblin Press is running the Kickstarter for their book Britannia & Beyond, a Roman setting campaign supplement for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game and the newest stretch goal is Tales of Cthulhu Invictus: Britannia, a fiction anthology which contains the last of my Macula and Damis stories, The Isle of The White Lady.

Readers may remember mystic talisman seller Damis of Nineveh and his bodyguard Macula’s printed adventures began in the first Cthulhu Invictus anthology with The Unrepeatables, and continued in The Apotheosis of Osirantinous .

This story sees Damis and Macula returning to frontier Britannia where they first met, to confront a terrible threat drifting south on winds of freezing snow.

Here’s an excerpt…
———————————————-

 

Modius Macula had never suspected he would return to the grey, rain-soaked hills of Britannia, let alone to the dismal little vicus of Vindolanda itself. Yet here he was, leaning in the doorway of a shabby tavern, watching the Tungrian auxiliaries march east along the Stanegate Road.

He closed his eyes and listened to the clink of the auxiliaries’ gladii. Preparations for Antoninus Pius’ invasion of the Caledonian Lowlands were in full swing. The new stone fortress at Corsopitum was nearly complete, and the Vindolanda garrison was lending three hundred men to the coming campaign.

It was unseasonably cold for Martius.

Macula drew his woollen cloak closer about his shoulders. He felt the keen pangs of a veteran among young soldiers too busy to think him anything other than some faceless, idle civilian. This dredged up in him the old envy of the fighter whose campaigns had ended.

He heard a prolonged, deep cough from behind, and glanced at the table where his employer, the venerable Damis of Nineveh, sat hacking into his balled fist. He should never have allowed his friend to make this journey.

Damis should have been in Rome making a killing off graven images of the newly deified Empress Faustina in his talisman shop on the Vicus Cesaris, but the old Assyrian had been plagued by disturbing, prophetic nightmares since the start of the year.

“A terrible doom is moving, Macula,” Damis had moaned one night in a sweat. “I saw a strange grey flame consuming all Britannia. Over everything it passed it left a blanket of white ash. It spread to Rome herself. Apollonius took me up to stand on the orb of the Moon. I saw the whole world smoking like a ball of pitch.”

Being a Pythagorean, Damis had never been one to dismiss a dream, particularly when his late master, Apollonius of Tyana was involved.

Twenty years ago, while touring the province with Hadrian, Damis had stopped an incursion of foul little creatures that still slashed their way through Macula’s nightmares by negotiating a peace between Rome and an isolated sub-tribe of Christian Brigantes. Part of that peace had involved the secret installation of talismans in the milecastles along the border wall, to keep the things from migrating south.

Damis had petitioned the Emperor for permission to journey north to Britannia and inspect the eighty talismans. Pius had finally issued him an imperial assessor’s writ.

They had travelled thirty nine inclement miles between Maia and Vindolanda this past week. They’d found none of the talismans disturbed so far, but the intensity of Damis’ nightmares had increased. He slept little. Macula attributed it to a fever the old Assyrian had contracted from exposure to the chilly northern weather.

Macula watched the last of the auxiliaries pass up the road, drained his dregs, and rejoined Damis.

“You look like shit, old man,” he observed.

“Forthright as ever,” Damis grinned weakly.

That the old Assyrian had survived this journey at all Macula could only attribute to his Pythagorean diet and asceticism. Yet it was clear Damis had reached his limit.

“You can’t take another week of this. Let’s go to the valetudinarium.”

“Submit myself to the proddings of some Greek-hating alcoholic army bone cutter?” Damis shook his head. “No, just some warm colostrum, I think. Then we can be on our way again.”

“We should rest until the weather warms,” Macula said.

“The weather will never warm,” said a voice with a thick Brythonic accent. A youth stood over them, in a robe of dingy white sackcloth, dirty blonde hair dangling from beneath his hood.

Macula held up his cup.

“More beer, boy,” Macula growled. “And a word of advice. It’s not polite to insinuate yourself into a private conversation.”

“Are you Damis of Nineveh?” the youth asked, ignoring Macula.

Damis looked up.

“Do you know me?”

“I’m Gildas, son of Driskell, smith of the Textoverdi.”

“Tex-to-ver-di,” Damis repeated slowly.

“You came here one dark night, when I was a boy,” said Gildas. “You took shelter in my father’s hut.”

Macula looked hard at the young man now, going over the coincidence in his mind. He had just been thinking of that dark night twenty years ago, when he and Damis had hid in a Brigante roundhouse near here. He still remembered the smell of unwashed bodies and peat fire, and vaguely, the frightened eyes of a dingy little boy peering out behind the skirt of his mother.

“I remember,” said Damis. “Please.”

Gildas sat between them.

“The Bishop of Albion, Josaphus ben Joseph, was killed that night,” Gildas went on, in a conspiratorial tone. He looked about quickly, then took from his tunic a rude bit of wood shaped into a fanciful representation of a fish; an icthys, the sign of the Christians.

Macula remembered Josaphus too; a priest of that Jewish sect, slain by an overexcited centurion. Before dying, Josaphus had taught Damis the charm that now warded every mile of the Wall.

“This was his?” Damis said, reaching out to touch the holy symbol.

“The very one,” Gildas confirmed, returning it to his tunic.

“Has the Wall failed?” Damis asked anxiously, gripping Gildas’ upper arm.

“Against that which threatens Britannia now, it could never hope to stand,” said Gildas, producing a leather pouch from his cloak.

As he undid the strings, Damis and Macula leaned closer to see.

Gildas removed a small wooden box from the pouch, and from that, using the folds of the leather, he gingerly lifted out a foggy white stone with a bright purple glow in its center. He set it on the table.

“Some kind of jewel?” Macula asked.

Damis touched it, but recoiled and hissed, jamming his fingers into his mouth. He stared in shock at Gildas, then drew the sleeve of his tunic over his hand, as though he were touching a pan hot from an oven, and held the stone up to the lamplight.

There was a purple flower perfectly preserved in the center.

“Ice,” Damis said in hushed awe. “Ice that does not melt. So cold, it burns.”

“A Caledonian was found with this, on the banks of the Verda,” said Gildas, “skin blackened, half-frozen. Before he died, he spoke of a living light moving south, like the pillar of flame that guided the Hebrews. Anything caught by it, anything that breathes in the air, animals, men, even the birds of the sky,” he snapped his fingers and stabbed at the frozen flower. “Like this.”

“What is it?” Damis mumbled.

“Bishop Alain believes Satan is marching up from the coldest depths of hell, to punish those who have strayed from Christ,” said Gildas.

Macula was vaguely aware that Satan was a vindictive underworld god in the Christian pantheon.

Have you strayed?” Damis asked.

Damis was no Christian, but the cult was something of a hobby for him.

Like most good Romans, Macula didn’t care overly for Christians. Jews were at least tolerable in that they kept their unbearable self-righteousness to themselves. Macula had mashed the nose of a zealot named Justin when the fanatic had tried to lead a frothing mob to vandalize the talisman shop over some heretical symposium Damis had hosted there with his mind-numbingly loquacious Christian philosopher friends Valentinus, Marcion, and Cerdo.

Yet by his own adventures with Damis, he knew the Christian god was as real as any other.

“Some of us have begun worshipping the old goddess Satiada again,” said Gildas, “with blood sacrifices led by a strange White Lady. Bishop Alain says that Satiada is a name by which Satan goes, and that the White Lady is the Whore of Babylon.”

That, at least, sounded interesting to Macula.

“My father told me you were a very wise man,” Gildas finished. “When I learned you had returned, I had to find you. Will you help?”

Macula grimaced over the boy’s shoulder and shook his head furiously at Damis.

“Macula,” said Damis, “it is nearly the start of the campaign season. How many of the provincial legions has Lollius Urbicus committed to the drive against the Caledonians?”

Macula lowered his eyes. All along the Wall the talk among the soldiers had been about the governor’s preparations for Pius’ expansion of the northern border.

“All three,” he said. Nearly fifteen thousand men, to say nothing of auxiliaries. He had an image of those men encased in ice like this purple flower.

“I don’t want to die in Britannia, old man,” Macula sighed.

Image result for winter roman britain

Merkabah Rider Shirts

T-shirts featuring Juri Umagami’s art for the Merkabah Rider series are available on Teepublic.

Just a heads up that the Have Glyphs Will Travel shirts are on sale for thirteen bucks for the next two days.

Have_Glyphs-eCover

Published in: on March 17, 2020 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Adventure of The Three Rippers in Sherlock Holmes And The Occult Detectives Vol. 1

Berlanger Books is holding a Kickstarter to fun their new two volume series of stories featuring Sherlock Holmes interacting with a variety of occult detectives.

Fans of Terovolas may recall Professor Abraham Van Helsing making an aside reference to having crossed paths with Holmes and Watson.  In Volume 1 of this new series, you’ll learn the particulars of that momentous meeting, as it features Van Helsing and Holmes in ‘The Adventure of The Three Rippers.’

This takes place in 1888, a number of years before the events of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Terovolas of course, and features a excerpts from Van Helsing’s papers relating to his heretofore unrevealed pursuit of a lunatic who attacked his wife, who was a long time patient at the Het Dolhuys facility in Haarlem.

This entry gives us an intimate look at the brilliant professor’s mindset at the time.

——————-

From the Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing (translated from the original Dutch)

5th November.

Van Voorhees yet eludes me. My sabbatical from the university draws to a close. I have secured an engagement lecturing The Physiological Society Friday morning which will extend my stay in London, but it is not enough. God, am I to be foiled in the end by lack of resources? Inspector Swanson has promised to solicit my services should the need arise, yet I know he is dubious of their worth. My room here is fast draining my funds. I am tempted to take up John’s kindly offer to stay in Purfleet, but I fear it would take me far from my purpose. Van Voorhees is very near. Three days until the eighth. He must strike again.

I had a peculiar dream last night. I saw his face, tiny in the corner of the eye of the guiltless, wretched janitor, a scheming homunculus leering as he directed the blade toward my dear wife’s throat like a man looking out of the glass in a pilot house.

In the manner of dreams, I next saw the honey-colored Anglican peripteros with its prominent circular spire, which has been my daily scenery since my arrival here in Marleybone. Majestic between the Corinthian pillars, like the legendary quarry of Wodan’s hunt, a great hooved, pitch-black stag stood pawing the stone steps.

I awoke to the sonorous bell of All Soul’s echoing the call to morning mass across the street.
Image result for all souls maryleboneI shall take the air. It is frustrating to know he is somewhere in this city, one among millions and yet, is there any more vile? He is a devil inside a man inside a man. But which man? Or which woman, for that matter?

He watches the women as I watch for him, both of us eager to be about our work.

If I could but predict his next act – but I am no medium, and even less a detective.

God grant me aid.

——————————–

Of course, this story also concerns the legendary Sherlock Holmes, and as such, I have supplemented Van Helsing’s journal entries with the writings of his longtime colleague Dr. John Hamish Watson as they pertain to Van Helsing’s London adventure, to corroborate the validity of the Professor’s account.

I must here express my gratitude to the Watson family estate for allowing me access to these previously unpublished writings, which, due to their fantastic nature, were never relinquished to Holmes’ unofficial biographer at The Strand, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even though they shed light on the activities of London’s most famous consulting detective during the events of one of the city’s most heinous crime sprees.

——————–
The alacritous ricochet of a violin bounded up Baker Street as I strolled toward our rooms. I noticed more than a few of the passersby touching their ears and grimacing as they directed their collective annoyance up at the open window of 221B, where I discerned the silhouette of Holmes sawing furiously at his instrument.

Paganini’s Arpeggio is of course, not readily to the layman’s taste, even when played expertly. I confess to not being fond of it myself. There was something to Holmes’ playing this afternoon which added to its discordance. By the time I had ascended the stair and come into the drawing room, I knew what.

He was in his shirt sleeves, and the morocco case sat open on the mantelpiece.

My friend had been in a state of idle melancholy for the better part of a week, due to some matter which he would not confide in me. I perceived it was related to the infamous Ripper case.

Holmes of course, had been involved in the affair prior to our departure for Dartmoor, back when the fledgling killer’s tally yet numbered two. He had been summarily dismissed from the investigation after a row with Sir Charles Warren, the Chief Commissioner. Two years ago, Sir Charles’ near-fanatic enforcement of an edict to muzzle dogs had resulted in an overzealous constable clubbing one pitiable cur to death on our very stoop. The incident had soured Holmes on the man. Displeased with Sir Charles’ comparatively middling dedication to the Ripper case, Holmes had excoriated him that if he only pursued the murderer with as much zeal as he chased down stray dogs, the women of Whitechapel could breathe easy.

There was assuredly a political element to his dismissal as well. The police simply did not want their most famous case solved by a civilian.

I knew though, that Holmes had in some way defied the injunction, and kept me at arms’ length during his private investigations so as to shield me from reprimand should they be discovered.

He had been in constant contact with some person or persons very close to the case. I had seen him scrutinizing the handwriting of the letters reportedly sent by the killer to the Central News Agency, which he received via courier, and a driver I privately questioned admitted to me that Holmes had visited Whitechapel so many nights in the past few weeks he was worried his passenger might actually be the Ripper.

Since the end of October, however, Holmes had retreated into indolence, or rather, as much indolence as his vigorous mind was capable of. He pored over his volumes, scraped at his violin, and succumbed to his more unworthy habits.

As I took off my coat, I surreptitiously peered into the morocco case and saw that the last of his tinctures was drained.

He stopped his playing upon perceiving me, and sparing one last look out the window, returned his instrument to its case.

“We shall have a new problem before us soon, Watson,” he said without preamble, rolling down his left sleeve and shouldering into his jacket.

“Ah?” I replied, and privately thought that a new conundrum to occupy Holmes’ troubled brain could not come fast enough. “How soon?”

Presently there was a knock on the chamber door. Holmes allowed himself a thin smile and bid the client enter as he settled into his chair.

An extraordinary looking gentleman entered. He wore shoulder length hair and a drooping, insistent mustache, and was dressed in a fringed top coat of tanned leather, and knee high gaiters of yellow deerskin, over dungaree trousers and a pair of high heeled boots. His bibbed shirt front was adorned with a number of badges, so many that one had retired to the crown of his wide brimmed hat, which the man wore cocked at a slant. I should say that a colorful kerchief tied about his neck capped off his unique appearance, but that honor surely belonged to the shining, overlarge, ivory-handled revolver thrust brazenly through his wide belt.

The man doffed his hat upon entering. His smile barely poked out from behind his whiskers.

“Which of you gentlemen is Mr. Sherlock Holmes?” he drawled slowly, in the manner of an American.

”I am,” Holmes confirmed. “May I present Dr. John Watson?”

The man bobbed his chin at me.

“Watson,” Holmes said, “this is Colonel Joe Shelley of Austin, Texas, proprietor of Mexican Joe’s Western Wilds of America review, opening in Sheffield tomorrow. Please sit down, Colonel, and tell me about this missing Sioux Indian of yours. He’s only been with your show five months, so he’s not the man who shot you. Why would a Red Indian who doesn’t speak a word of English go wandering the streets of London?”
Image result for colonel joe shelley

The colonel stood dumbstruck.

“By God you are Sherlock Holmes! They told me you’d know who I was and what I was after before I sat down.”

“They?” I ventured.

“Mr. Barker and Mr. Levillard,” said the colonel.

“Monsieur le Villard,” Holmes corrected him.

“’At’s ‘im! They told me if’n I ever found myself in a bind you was the one to go to. But now, sir,” he said, dragging the stool from Holmes’ workbench and perching on it, “you must tell me how you came by all that.”

Holmes nodded and settled back in his chair.

——————————

If there were ever doubts about the veracity of my claims as to the historicity of Professor Abraham Van Helsing after the publication of Terovolas (and there were), I cannot help but think that the publication of this new account, which involves such documented historical personages as Colonel Joe Shelley, the poet Francis Thompson, Mrs. Alice Meynell and the famous Lakota prophet Black Elk, will surely vindicate my previous efforts.

As a side note, in researching this book, I may have inadvertently identified the full name of a previously unidentified (and exonerated) Ripper suspect, Richard Chester Dere….just a neat sidenote tidbit. (a link to the announcement on the Jack The Ripper forums – ( https://www.jtrforums.com/showthread.php?t=29285 )

The book is currently funding via Kickstarter…

Happy Birthday, Dad.

The train my dad’s been waiting for finally pulled into the station last Thursday, January 23rd.

My mom said he had a smile on his face when he went. Maybe my grandfather stepped onto the platform to bring him on board. The smiling father he never knew, and only heard for the first time last year, on his last Father’s Day. 

I’ve heard the horror stories of lots of people, the stories of angry, drunken, or absent fathers.

My dad never gave me any of those stories to tell. The hardest thing he ever put me through was his own death. I love him dearly and miss him sorely. I never knew a better man. He was faithful, loving, and kind. He and my mom took me all over this country, taught me to love history and to cleave to each other, and to always pull over when someone needs help .

The last movie we watched together was The Shootist, which funny enough, took place from January 22nd-29th. The last week of the main character, JB Books’ life, the last movie of John Wayne’s career. I somehow always thought my dad would die somewhere in this span of dates, if not on his actual birthday. It’s fitting. The 22nd was Robert E. Howard’s birthday too, and the line, “gigantic mirths and gigantic melancholies” keeps making me think of Dad.

Today, the 27th, is his birthday. Last night I opened the fridge and saw a single bottle of Beck’s, his favorite beer and just lost it. It’s the last one left in the house. Mom says I should drink it today. I don’t know. I feel like he’d want me to get rid of all the Coronas in the downstairs fridge he bought for me. He called them creek water, and was always asking me when I was gonna finish ’em. I’d tell him to drink them with me.

“Noooo thank you,” he’d demure.

The last thing he said to me from his bed a couple weeks ago as I went to the door was;

“I love ya Ed. I’m gonna miss you.”

He never forgot me. Even when he was forgetting everything my Dad never forgot me.

“I love you too, Dad,” I said. “I’m gonna miss you too. Just promise to come and get me when it’s my turn.”

“I promise,” he said.

If he was ever afraid, I never saw it.

Mom said once before he fell unconscious he worried that he “had to finish that thing for Ed.” I don’t know what he was thinking about. He didn’t leave anything undone. Today I find myself a son with no father on earth. As far as I’m concerned, my Dad fulfilled his duty to me magnificently.

I hope now that he is with his own father. Now that I am without him, as I told him, I will live the rest of my life trying to be the father to my kids that he was to me. I hope now that he’s somewhere enjoying being the son he never got the chance to be, running with his dogs and his dad.

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https://www.boersmafuneralhome.com/obituary/Edward-Erdelac

Published in: on January 26, 2020 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

What’s Coming In 2020

OK what to look forward to from your humble bookwright in 2020.

First on the docket, I’m pleased to announce my first Lovecraftian fiction collection, That At Which Dogs Howl And Others will be coming out from Alan Bahr’s Raven Canticle Press. Look for that in the first quarter of the year.

Next up, the reprint of Merkabah Rider 4: Once Upon A Time In The Weird West, with new interior art by M. Wayne Miller and a killer cover by Juri Umagami based on this classic poster from The Shootist –

Related imageI’ll be returning to Professor Abraham Van Helsing in a small way with The Adventure Of The Five Rippers, in Sherlock Holmes And The Occult Detectives from Belanger Books. Maybe this will kick me in the harkness and I’ll finally get a second Van Helsing Papers book finished. So if you want more Van Helsing, let me know.

Finally, from the pages of Occult Detective Quarterly, my 70’s Harlem occult PI John Conquer will be making his independent debut in a collection. Conquer: Calm, Cool, Collected, hopefully by the end of the year.

If you missed out on April Moon Books’ Bond Unknown, in which my 60’s era Lovecraftian James Bond novelette Mindbreaker appeared, I’m serializing it all this year on my Patreon, so head over there and kick a fin if you wanna read that.

Hope you lovely readers have a pleasant 2020. I’ll do my best to augment it for you.

Published in: on December 31, 2019 at 8:38 pm  Comments (2)  

Waiting

My dad is waiting for a train, he tells me.

“Where’s it going?” I ask.

“Anywhere else,” he says. “Where is it already?”

“I guess it’s been delayed?” I venture.

“Yeah,” he says, slowly. “Maybe I can talk to the stationmaster. Do you think he ever comes down here for people who are stuck waiting?”

“I don’t know,” I say.

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Maybe he only comes down for relatives. I’m reminded how much I despise nepotism. Angels roll away the stone from Christ’s tomb. He says all his goodbyes and ascends bodily. Abrams’ kid gets to write Spider-Man. My dad’s stuck waiting at the station.

The station is a hospital bed in the living room. He lies beneath the covers, wrapped in plastic. He hasn’t been able to get up in three weeks now. He tries sometimes. And sometimes he cries.

“It just gets old. Waiting,” he explains.

He’s not sure what’s happened to him.  Back in the 80’s he was involved in a siege in Calumet City, where we’re from. A man locked himself in his house with an arsenal and a gas mask.

I can still remember his car roaring into the driveway that day.

A friend and I were watching cartoons, and he stormed past us in his cream colored blazer and brown slacks and tie. He was plainclothes then, in juvenile division, and he had a mustache as I guess all cops are obligated to sport once in their lives.

He runs upstairs, and a minute later comes down with a shotgun I didn’t know he had.

“What’s goin’ on, Dad?” I ask.

“Shooting,” he says, and runs back outside to his car. He goes flying backwards down the driveway and swerves into the street, then goes off, blue mars light flashing on the dash. It’s like Starsky and Hutch.

My friend and I look at each other, wide-eyed.

“Coooool!” we exclaim, like kids in an 80’s movie.

It never occurred to me he was in danger till this moment.

That night we glimpse him on the TV news, crouched behind a parked squad car, shouting to an officer who’s come to the house once or twice.

The camera cuts to a SWAT guy shooting out a streetlight. In hindsight, I don’t know why the city didn’t just turn the power off. My mom tells me the fire department got pissed because of all the broken glass that rained down on the parked hook and ladder truck. They had to pick it all out.

What I most remember is the remote anchorman mispronouncing a local Mexican restaurant as Pee Pee’s.

Image result for pepe's calumet city
But now my dad insists he was shot that night. That’s why he can’t get out of bed, why everything’s sore.

And my mom has to explain to him about the stroke again. She does it three or four times a day. Every time he wakes up from the long, feline sleeps he spends most of his time in now.

My dad was building a model railroad. It was a mockup of the Santa Fe line, with stops in Indiana and New Mexico. There are red stone mountains, a family of bears fishing in a stream. There’s an Italian restaurant he had me name.
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It will never be completed. Recently I read about Rod Stewart finishing his layout. It made me angry and sad.

20191116_125606Anyway, some of his train buddies, themselves 70 year old men, came over before we flew out here to visit for the holidays, and set up the old Lionel train and track that used to loop around the Christmas tree when I was a kid. I run it a few times for my kids.

My mom says the sound of it is what’s making him think he’s in a train station.

My kids are making a racket. They take polaroids with him from Willow’s new instant camera. I don’t know why she wants an instant camera in this digital age. It’s retro, I guess. She’s only nine. Does she care about that?

My dad says he can’t see the flashes.

It must be very like a busy train station, all the noise. All the people coming and going for Christmas dinner. Saying goodbye to him. But we all leave and he stays.

Tonight I helped him lie in his own bed with my mom. Just one night, while I’m here and can help her lift him into the wheelchair. He’s lighter than before, his legs thin and pale, but because he has no agency, he’s still hard to pick up.

My mom tells him she’s going to shut the light out. After she does, she asks him if it’s alright. He doesn’t know what’s changed.

When I have the remote, we watch a lot of Barney Miller. Or rather he listens to it. Smiles now and then at Harris and Wojo and Yemana.

“Harris is writing a book,” I mention.

“Yep,” says Dad. “Blood On The Badge.” He remembers that.

Image result for barney miller
He asked to watch a war movie for some reason today and my mom puts on Windtalkers. It’s a lot of shooting and yelling. I don’t know what he’s getting out of it, ’cause he can’t see this crazy Jon Woo bullet ballet unfold.
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He’s asleep by the end, and my mom puts on In The Heat of The Night. The show, not the movie.

I doze off. When I wake up he’s crying, asking again why he can’t get up. My mom counsels him to let go. In the moment I feel like she’s being selfish, wanting it to be over with. I know that’s not it though. She hates to see him in anguish, without his dignity.

I think he could go on for a long time yet like this. He’s strong. Even laid low, he’s very strong.

He doesn’t want to leave her, he keeps saying. He’ll miss her too much.

I still don’t get the sense that he’s afraid.

 

Published in: on December 31, 2019 at 7:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Merkabah Rider Hanukkah Sale

Happy Hanukkah! All three Merkabah Rider books are on sale for the next seven days and nights!

Published in: on December 23, 2019 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment