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  

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