An Inner Darkness Kickstarter: Last Chance!

Hey gang, Oscar Rios, Brian Sammons and Golden Goblin Press have put together another winning Lovecraftian anthology, An Inner Darkness, centered around social injustice in the 1920’s with a dash of cosmic dread. My own offering, By Unknown Hands, sees an unscrupulous conman murdering Osage Indians for their oil headrights in Oklahoma. He gets more than he bargained for when he targets a reclusive Osage woman….the anthology is a mere eight hundred bucks away from happening, so if you’re reading this, head over here and kick a buck as we’re in the final two hours.

————————————————————–
Here’s a taste of By Unknown Hands….
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.
“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….”

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An Update: I just got word that this project funded! Thanks to all who supported it. I’ll have a link up to the actual anthology as soon as it becomes available, so watch this space. Ia! Ia!
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Published in: on April 14, 2019 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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