Golden Goblin Press, whose anthologies Tales Of Cthulhu Invictus and Tales of The Caribbean published my Lovecraftian stories The Unrepeatables and Gods of The Grim Nation respectively, have a brand new book coming out, Heroes of Red Hook – a very worthy project conceived by owner and editor Oscar Rios as a response to the unfortunate racism inherent in HP Lovecraft’s works and co-edited by Brian Sammons.
I’ve approached the Mythos from a non-Anglo Saxon perspective a couple times in the past, with Crawlin’ Chaos Blues and Gods of The Grim Nation, so I jumped at the chance to be a part of a book like this, as did the following writers:
Glynn Owen Barrass
Scott R. Jones
Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire
Paula R. Stiles
Mercedes M. Yardley
My entry, Beyond The Black Arcade, is a prequel to my previous Zora Neale Hurston story Gods Of The Grim Nation, and an indirect sequel to Lovecraft’s own The Call of Cthulhu. Zora, gathering folklore on hoodoo for her New York benefactress, submits to the tutelage of a famed New Orleans conjure man, who, as part of her initiation, takes her deep into the bayou to redress a wrong unwittingly perpetrated by Inspector Legrasse’s raid on a backwoods cult of Cthulhu in 1908. They discover an Indian father whose son has been abducted by winged creatures, who have born the boy to a strange, luminescent lake back in the swamp.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
Luke Turner was an old, dark man with a Berber’s face and one blown out eye. I knew he was the genuine article because he was the only one of the five hoodoo doctors I had met to cuss me outright for a tourist rather than bob his head and call me ‘Miz Hurston’ when I floated the promise of recompense their way.
Doc Turner was an old hand at turning away the curious. He called me names Godmother Mason would blush to hear, and quoted me a rube’s price for tuition. I finally remarked that I wasn’t even sure he was on the level, and if he was truly her nephew, tell me something about Marie Leveau I didn’t already know, before I wasted my good money on another rounder with a deck of marked cards and a pair of writin’ slates.
Pride got the better of him then, and he stopped snarling and got up on his hind legs to howl.
“To know the Queen, you must know Hoodoo.”
“I know Hoodoo,” I lied. I knew some things. I knew about Goofer dust, and Conquerer Root, and I knew the ghosts of convicted murderers wandered blind because of the executioner’s hood.
He laughed lowly.
“You do not, but I will tell you. God made the world we know with powerful words in six days and then rested. We live still on the seventh, waiting for Him to wake again. How many times the sun chase the moon, and always man look high and deep for them precious words and find none, until Moses. He was taught just ten, and them ten little words was enough to tear a nation out the side of Egypt. But the Burning Bush would have blasted Moses to soot if he hadn’t been taught by Jethro, who knew the way of the Old One; the way of true Hoodoo.”
“The Old One?”
He leaned forward, and in the hazy light through the window, I saw something glitter on his finger. When he saw my eyes move to it, he covered one hand with the other and held my eyes.
“There was a snake in a hole right under the Lord’s footrest. The snake taught Jethro’s folks down in the deep blue places of the earth, and Jethro taught Moses. It put fire in his mind, clouds in his words; the words of making and unmaking. Lots of men, they can order things around. Moses could make.”
“Is this the snake got us booted from the Garden of Eden?” I asked.
“Not booted,” said Doc Turner with a thin, patient smile. “Freed. What’s a garden to a wildflower lookin’ down from a hill, but a prison?”
“So the Old One taught Moses the words, is the Devil?”
“Some call him Damballah. In the old times, Set. He is the godfather of man. He is Yig. He is my guide.”
“Will Yig guide me too?” I asked.
I’m proud of this one and happy to be working with Oscar and Brian again. The story features some references not just to Lovecraft, but to my all-time favorite writer Robert E. Howard as well.
As mentioned, it’s also a return to writing Zora Neale Hurston in the role of a Lovecraftian protagonist. She’s a character I’m fast falling in love with writing, and one of the stretch goals of the kickstarter is a novella-length story featuring her, called King Yeller. In it, Zora is hired by the Federal Theater Project in New York City as a drama coach for up and coming young director Orson Welles’ all-black production of Macbeth. Except Welles, in typical upstart fashion, decides a quarter of the way through rehearsals that the cast will instead enact a production of a very rare and obscure play, The King In Yellow, which has just been provided to him by a mysterious benefactor….
So, if you wanna see the Yeller Sign through Zora’s eyes, be generous to this exciting project. You have till July 25th when the kickstarter ends.