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Tag Archives: Lovecraft

My last horror collection I wrote is entitled The Other Side of Despair. It was inspired by my studies in Psychology as well as the classic weird stories of Robert W. Chambers that was The King in Yellow.

I was posting a link to the book in a thread and happened to see a review. It was refreshing to see someone get the book as I intended it!

Here is the review by Arnstein H. Pettersen with many thanks from me, sir! I’m glad yo enjoyed it:

Using the science and art of psychology to descend from the ledge chiseled by Lovecraft, further into that dyscognitive abyss.
(Also containing the short story collection that amass to the tale of ‘The Scourge of Wetumpka’, which firmly resides within the Cthulhu mythos.)

The horror genre often bring psychology into the mix as it plies its trade; dread does after all reside within the limits of our minds. Yet only rarely does one find an exemplar of the genre as The Other Side of Despair, where the matters of the psyche is at least nine-tenths of the tale. Its eclectic assortment of short stories persists in pitching the perceptions of the fantastical against the fabrications of the mind, leaving the reader lost for answers in a dilemma akin to that of figuring out which one initiated the (seemingly) etrnal cycle of causality between the chicken and the egg. And to present this dilemma as vividly as possible we have to gain a most intimate insight into the cogitations of the perceiver – or if you prefer the imagery: to observe the prancings of the Devil through the eyes that behold him. It is clearly no coincident that the stories consist mostly of monologues, excerpts of diaries, and personalized letters; ways of narration that are tightly bound to the core of the narrator’s world and interpretation thereof. Yet, despite their differences, they belong to a common literary universe, amassing the information of the individual story into something larger, perhaps even into something resembling answers.

The first monologue is titled ‘Shockley House’, and it is these 18 pages who serve as our introduction to the overall theme of the book. It details an attempt to research hauntings as a psychological phenomena – “Ultimately, it falls into the psychological realm because a statement of belief about witnessing something supernatural, […] is a statement about the psychological state of the person’s belief in what their senses have conveyed to them.” – where the researchers utilize a house rumored to be spectrally inhabited in order to coax their patients into believing the haunting to be real. It is a tale that goes to great lengths in attempting to give a scientific rationale for the phenomena, postulating that it is indeed made from mental fabrications; and much of it is, unexpectedly, quite persuasive. Yet, after wholeheartedly attempting to win the reader over to its logic – going so far as to make nearly testable hypotheses – the tale changes. The aforementioned dilemma begins to form as the rationale begins to shows its cracks, through which the fantastical seems to seep out into reality. The resulting horror results as much from the questioning of the world fabric as from the happenings themselves, making it a truly Lovecraftian experience despite lacking a common mythology.

The following short stories do an even greater job of muddling the dilemma, bringing such vagaries as shadows and dreams into the deliberation. Especially difficult is the tale called ‘Children of the Wasteland’, which bases its premise on Zhuangzi’s butterfly conundrum: “Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly […] unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened […] Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” (In fact, the tale is so convoluted that a tip is in order to facilitate the reading. It is not a spoiler and the reader will still have to do much puzzling to make sense out of that one. The hint is: Put to mind Brother Humphrey’s prayer.) Also, the tales are in a sense interwoven through a common world although the clues we are given to this lie discretely placed. The most obvious one is that several of the tales take place in Rathbone Asylum, but closer inspection will reveal others too. This is without a doubt one of the most intriguing works of horror which I have ever come across.

The bonus tale, ‘The Scourge of Wetumpka’ – which is quite some bonus since it covers nearly a hundred of the two-hundred and twenty-four pages of the book – has no connection to the tales of The Other Side of Despair. It is constructed from several short stories, each of which present its own part of the narrative; it builds upon H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, not to mention the works of several other authors who have continued his legacy, but most importantly it builds upon ‘The Colours from Outer Space’ to such a degree that the reader should be adviced to read that short story before embarking upon it. Indeed, this tale could be considered a continuation of the excellent tradition of fanfics (a tradition ancient compared to the term ‘fanfic’ and its modern stigmas, even predating our Current Era/Anno Domine), or, if one prefers to describe it as thus, it is a honorific towards one of the inspirations and thus co-creators of any current work of penmanship. Yet, it goes beyond this and brings to light obscure bits of history and actual conundrums, with notes carefully added with the information on what is accurate and what is embellishment, so as to avoid corruption of the facts. I was particularily fascinated by how little embellishment was needed for the author to connect the fictitious cult of ghouls to real historical events. In my opinion, this is a very welcome addition to the Cthulhu mythos. Also, since it consists solely of letters, clippings, recording transciptions, and similar, it would be an excellent piece of source material for game masters planning role-playing forays into the mythos universe.

Before ending the review, I’d like to note that David Maurice Garrett is not just a writer but also a musician (not to be confused with the violinist David Garrett) with currently six releases behind him, all of whom relate to the horror genre and Lovecraft’s works in particular. There is even a soundtrack for ‘The Scourge of Wetumpka’ among them. Whoever intends to delve into this book would clearly do well to check out these releases as well (the soundtrack in particular, of course).”

 

The story entitled “The Children of the Wasteland” that Arnstein mentions was featured on the Podcast Random Transmissions.

David

For those writers and bloggers who have steadfastly followed the last two stories I’ve posted, I would like to say thank you for reading them. After I published my collection of short stories in 2010 I decided to take some time away from writing and figure out a new direction. Finally, I decided to write a novella that was a Lovecraftian, Cthulhu Mythos story – The Scourge of Wetumpka. That took some time to write but turned out quite well. Coming off of that I began writing Psychological Horror short stories. When I use the term Psychological, I am using it in the true sense of the term as having to do with Psychology. I have a Master’s in Psychology and I really enjoy Psychological thrillers with horror or dark fantasy overtones. The first couple of stories were “Alone” and “Shockley House”. I was very pleased with “Shockley House” but wound up re-writing “Alone” in order to make it deliver the right effect. After those two stories, I began to get interested in the use of Symbolism and the techniques used in Impressionism. The last two stories, “The Land of Nod” and “The Murklor”, explore using those techniques in writing weird tales. What makes them really work on a blog is that each day (or every couple of days) a new glimpse or vignette is added to the overall impression of the piece. In “The Land of Nod” I tried to do that by adding more bits of symbolism to the canvass of the story. In “The Murklor”, I tried to do that by adding new vantage points – usually in the form of different writing techniques. Overall, I’m really liking this new direction of Impressionistic Weird Fiction. It’s fun and offers so much freedom.

BTW, I can’t take credit for inventing it. Here’s a really good interview about what I’m trying to achieve in my writing:

The Insomniac Propagandist

One final note – the ciphers in the story “The Murklor” are very much real. They aren’t just thrown together to make the story weirder than it already is. Each one was methodically designed and does have a real solution.

This is a new album I just completed:

IMG_1105

The Scourge of Wetumpka

Thanks to Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey at The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast for using music from Al Azif in Episode 114 – In The Walls of Eryx. As usual, they pulled off another entertaining episode. Sadly, they are coming to the end of Lovecraft’s body of weird tales with only two episodes left. They have mentioned that they will next be discussing weird tales that inspired Lovecraft, so I’m looking forward to that.

Thanks, Guys!

http://hppodcraft.com/2012/06/06/episode-114-in-the-walls-of-eryx/

This is artwork paying tribute to some of my favorite authors of horror:

The following are links to some good stuff on YouTube about Lovecraft (some serious, most funny):

A Lovecraft Dream

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC0Gqt8VRKk

The Elder Sign

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWT07iRvI9M

The Love Craft

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnbE8VGLnZw&feature=related

Fishmen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tTHn2tHhcI

Lovecraft Interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jQtkGJMtH0&feature=related

Awake Ye Scary Great Old Ones

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9gRtHX6c08&feature=related

 

I got the initial idea for The Ghouls of Coosada after reading the first part of Tyson’s Necronomicon. I’ll run through some of the elements of the story to explain what’s what.

To begin with, there really is a town of Coosada just down the road from Wetumpka, but it doesn’t have a university. I made up the university in order to give a setting to the plot. There really is a prison in Wetumpka – it’s called the Tutwiler Prison for Women. Yes, it’s an all female prison. I changed the name and made it a male prison with a ward for the criminally insane. Incidentally, the name of Gershom is a nod to W.H. Pugmire.

The name of Arthur Grosche is a reference to Eugen Grosche who was an occultist. He was the founder and Grandmaster of the occult lodge Fraternitas Saturni.

The descriptions of the ghouls and the chaklah’i are straight out of Tyson’s Necronomicon.

The two archaeologists who are the protagonists are fictional but references to their work on Scotland and Alabama are all true up until the point of cannibalism within the megalithic and Choctaw societies.

The Voynich Manuscript is a real manuscript that has yet to be deciphered by cryptologists or language experts. Its history as recounted in the story is true as far as is known. It is believed to be an alchemical document, but, as I said, it is still undeciphered.

There is another reference to Milo Brecklin and Tanner Wallace who will feature heavily in the next story.

There’s a few more Easter eggs in there that I’ll leave for later.

I dreamt of a vast stairwell hewn into a steep, black mountain of a rock. I was stumbling down it. I was being pursued by something high above me on the stairs. I chanced a glance back and could see several of the ghouls coming down the mountain, their dark, hunched forms silhouetted against a roiling, gray sky. Panic swept through me as I tried to run and leap down several stairs at a time. Ahead of me the stairs ended in a large, iron gate. I struggled to open it but it was locked. Through the gate I could see that the stairs ended abruptly and beyond the end was an infinite, yawning, black chasm. Somehow I knew that I possessed the key – I just needed to find it on my person before the ghouls reached me. Frantically I searched my clothing and realized the key was hanging from a cord around my neck. I fumbled with the lock as I heard the motion of the ghouls behind me, their claws clicking on the rocks and their low, guttural moans growing ever closer. Finally the lock slid home and I turned the key and heard the clack of the lock releasing. I tugged with all of my strength to pull the massive gate open enough to squeeze through. I slid through, reached back to retrieve the key and felt the searing pain of a clawed hand rake my arm. I pulled hard and turned the lock as several ghouls slammed into the gate, their long, slender arms groping through the bars for me as I backed towards the chasm out of their reach. I regarded their horrible faces gnashing at me for a moment and then I turned to face the chasm. It was limitless as the empty void of space itself. The sounds of the ghouls were lost behind as the silence of the void engulfed me. A wave of vertigo overcame me and I began to sway. Steadying myself on a nearby rock a sense of peace settled over me like nothing I had ever felt before. Standing there staring into the void I thought that it must be what death would feel like. Empty and peaceful. But then a noise disturbed the void. At first it was faint and eons away. But it grew louder. It was an alien sound full of low rumblings and clickings and moisture. And in the far distance of the void I beheld a shape darker than the blackness of empty space churning and writhing and speeding towards me and I awoke.

*

All of the pieces of this mad puzzle fell into place the night I followed Hall, Billingsley and their two surly companions to the desolate cemetery off of County Road 17. I secretly watched them from my bedroom window and for some inexplicable reason, decided to follow them. I suppose that I had gathered enough information that I sensed that they were going on another lurid trip involving the acquisition of a body. Without over thinking any plan, I grabbed my camera, rushed to my car and covertly followed the men.

When I saw them pull into the cemetery I then realized that they were engaged in grave robbing; but they weren’t robbing graves for the mundane purpose of stealing jewelry from corpses, their intentions were far more sinister. I parked some ways back down the road out of sight and went carefully by foot so as not to make my presence known. I was nervous and felt electrified because I knew that if they saw, Billingsley would most likely send his two thugs to ensure their dark secret remained underground. I cursed myself for not having the small .38 I kept locked in my safe, but I would surely have not been able to tail them to their destination if I’d have taken the time to grab it. So I merely hid in the edge of the woods a good distance from them and watched for the time being.

The two large thugs carried shovels and I could see that they had chosen a grave that was fresh because the dirt was still in a mound. While the two goons began digging, Hall and Billingsley appeared to be consulting over a book – probably one of the occult grimoires I had photographed and been researching. Soon they began to perform an incantation of some sort; they lit what appeared to be incense, crooned a strange language and circled the grave. I remember being surprised at how quickly the two henchmen dug the grave. Apparently the digging goes much faster on ground that has already been broken than it does on earth that is packed.

While my nerves were on edge from the danger of secretly watching them knowing full well that if they caught me I would likely be murdered, the horror of their revolting endeavor didn’t hit me until the two men lifted the corpse out of the ground. The body just flopped over the edge of the grave and I could hear Billingsley castigate the two for how rough they were handling the body. Hall and Billingsley proceeded to place the body in a better position and perform another incantation over it while their two lackeys filled back in the grave.

I vacillated on whether or not to attempt to take a photo of them at this point but finally decided that it was too risky. For one thing, I wasn’t exactly an expert with the digital camera I had and wasn’t confident enough to ensure that I could turn the flash off – that would’ve given me away in an instant. Maybe just turning the thing on would have cast enough light to advertise my presence. I also thought I was too far away for the picture to show anything that would be conclusive proof. I decided to wait and follow them. I felt pretty sure they would repeat what they did last time and go back to the cellar at Hall’s house to perform whatever mad ritual they intended to perform. I figured I could get home and call the police so that Hall and Billingsley could be caught in the act.

*

The chaklah’i are just outside of this sphere. Why they taunt me, I don’t know, but I feel my time is slipping away. When they first came I thought it was the end; and when they failed to take me that first time I thought it was because they couldn’t. Now I believe that they are just waiting for the right conditions to slip through and take me. I have exhausted all resources on how to stop them. I’ve written to Brecklin for assistance, but there has been no indication that he has received my pleas. Even if I got out of this godforsaken asylum, I doubt that would matter to them. There is nowhere that I could go that those fiendish beasts wouldn’t be able to stalk me. The physical limitations of this realm are inconsequential to them. Now I must finish my tale and send it to Arthur Grosche in the hopes that he believes me and will attempt to destroy those mad tomes that unlock the creatures of Hell.

I can’t stress enough how the perfidy of the police had filled me with a loathing and distrust of their competence. But I knew that I needed to call them as soon as this mad charade of black magic arrived at Hall’s house. I waited until the quorum of men had left the cemetery and then I crept back through the woods emerging at my vehicle. I crouched low and waited for them to pass by before cranking my car and following. Sure enough, the route led right back to our neighborhood.

I waited a safe distance down the street and watched them unload the body. I sat there several minutes weighing whether or not I should drive my car into my own driveway. I didn’t want to for fear that they might hear my car pulling in and suspect that I was on to them; so instead, I jogged down the street keeping to the shadows as much as possible. I fully intended on going directly into my house and calling the police – God! If I had done that I wouldn’t be in this hellish ordeal I’m in. Like the proverbial cat, I couldn’t resist slipping up to the low cellar window and peeking in. Of course they had blacked out the window, but there was just enough of a scratch of paint missing for me to look through and see a tiny restricted part of their ritual. I watched for a minute or two while it appeared that Billingsley was donning a black cloak. He was standing with his back to me and was thus blocking the view of the table. After that, he began waving his arms in a rhythmic pattern while I heard a chanting from within. I distinctly heard petitions to the Nameless God. Suddenly there was a flash of fire and Billingsley moved out of my field of vision. What I saw at that moment sent me spiraling into madness. I was overwhelmed with the absurdity of what I was seeing. To begin with, there were more than four men and a corpse in that tiny cellar. It appeared as if a throng of people was huddled around the body. I say people, some were people, but others were debatable on that. I recognized them from the description given in the occult literature. They were short with blackish skin – not the brown that we erroneously call black, but their skin was literally black. Their faces were sunken and cadaver-like. Their arms and legs were scrawny and knotty but their bellies were swollen. They were ghouls. Summoned to this plane by dark sorcery before my very eyes. This was enough in and of itself, but that wasn’t the only thing that short-circuited my brain. Lying on the table was a female corpse and the resemblance to my dear Lizzy was shocking. It was too uncanny for my poor brain to ignore. When I saw what these foul creatures were intending to do to that helpless woman, it was as if they were about to do it to my Lizzy!

After that it was all a blur. I found myself in an instant berserker rage. I sprinted to my house and grabbed the copy of The Gates of the Necronomicon, found the page of spells to summon the chaklah’i and ripped it out. I then went to my safe and retrieved my .38. I also procured an ax I had in the utility room at the rear of my house. Returning to the yard I began to read from the page while I made my way to Hall’s back door. I must have gone through the incantation several times until I decided to burst through the door. It was locked but I employed the ax to splinter it and charged for the stairs.

The sound from the door being hacked in must have caused one of the thugs to come investigate because I met him on the stairwell and proceeded to deliver a couple of rounds into him. He toppled backwards and I barreled down the rest of the way. The throng was thrown into disarray as I leapt into the room. It was all chaos after that. The last clear thing I remember seeing was one ghoul with a large piece of meat in its maw and Bilingsley leaning down over the corpse as if he too were taking a bite. At that moment there was another flash of fiery light and the chaklah’i were bounding towards the ghouls. Their howls were otherworldly and were returned with cries from human and ghoul alike. As for me, I just stood there firing willy nilly into the melee until all of the rounds were spent and then I began hacking at anything that moved with the ax. And then I blacked out.

Of course, the police were summoned by someone – likely a nearby neighbor – and arrived to find me lying unconscious with the ax still clutched in my hand. The four men were lying dead with more than just bullet holes and ax marks littering their lifeless bodies. As for the ghouls and chaklah’i, they were nowhere to be found. Most distressing of all, though, was that the corpse was gone as well.

No doubt it was devoured. I implored the detectives and psychiatrists to find the cemetery on County Road 17 and find the fresh grave. But they refused to attempt to exhume the grave – especially since I could not provide a name. It was futile for me to convince them or prove my innocence in any way.

I have no idea what terms I was beholden to for summoning those wretched demons, but obviously I owe them more and they’re getting closer to collecting each night.

I have no visitors here because I have no friends or family left that could come see me. My parents passed away years ago. Lizzy and I never had the chance to start a family. She was taken from me by some sick-o druggie looking for some quick cash so he could get his next fix. That night that I killed Billingsley and Hall is still a fog. Hell, I’m not even sure it was me that took their lives. I just remember vaguely in my berserker rage that I fantasized the men were the embodiment of the punk druggie who killed Lizzy.

I was surprised when the large guard who insists that he be called an “orderly” came and got me out of my cell. He informed me that I had a visitor. I was taken into a room with a lone table and several chairs. The strange man sitting at the table rose when I was brought in. He was an athletic man wearing khaki cargo pants and a denim shirt. He had sandy blond hair and dark, active eyes. The man struck me as a cocky, jock type. Probably military or police background. The guard offered to place me in a straightjacket for his safety but the man gave him a wry chuckle and said that it wouldn’t be necessary.

He introduced himself as Tanner Wallace. I was wary of him because I thought he might be a detective or, even worse, somehow connected to Billingsley or Hall. He sensed my uneasiness and began to reassure me that he was on my side and believed that what I had done was justified. He said that he knew all about my “ordeal” as he called it. I asked him why he cared and he admitted that he really wasn’t sure himself. I didn’t know how to take that and he began to explain that he was merely here on behalf of a man named Milo Brecklin. Apparently Mr. Brecklin was a very powerful man who took a special interest in the things I had encountered – referring to the arcane tomes, occult rituals, and unexplainable events that transpired that night in the cemetery.

I was amazed at how many details he knew about the bizarre work and interests of both Hall and Billingsley. I grew a bit more at ease because I felt that he actually believed me, unlike the head shrinks who seemed to only humor me while secretly judging me insane. He explained that Mr. Breckline was a sort of crusader trying to stamp out secret cults and cabals that perpetrate the twisted rituals and practices of the ilk that Hall and Billingsley were trying to resurrect. He told me that Brecklin wanted me interviewed to see if I was legit. He promised me that he would report back to Brecklin and that hopefully Brecklin could use his considerable influence to free me.

Maybe he was just a fraud or it was some warped, new technique by the psychiatrists trying to dissect my brain, but it is my only hope that I can be saved before I suffocate or truly go mad.

*

After a very nerve wracking visit to Hall’s residence I sat down at my computer and began to research the cryptic names of the strange books in his cellar. The two that seemed to have the most mystery and stigma tied to them were the Necronomicon and Cultes de Goules. These two books were rare occult books of legendary stature in a very nebulous and underground world of dark magic and sorcery. I won’t go into all of various dead ends and blind alleys I combed on both the internet and on the phone as I looked for copies of these rare and cursed books, but I did finally uncover the fact that only a few libraries in the United States held copies of them. The two closest ones were Harvard and Arkham, two schools that were too far away to warrant a trip up the Eastern seaboard. Coosada University is much too small to have any books of such rarity – the university doesn’t even have a rare books room like Arkham has. I did get a lead from an employee at the library for a man who might be able to help me.

Arthur Grosche ran a used bookstore in Wetumpka just over the bridge in the old part of town. His side passion was hunting, collecting, buying and selling rare books. I drove over to his store and went in. There were no customers in the store and I found him behind the counter going through a box of paperbacks. He was an elderly man with gray hair and reading glasses riding the tip of his nose. When I asked if he was Arthur Grosche he looked over the top of the lenses and sized me up before answering in the affirmative. I had made up a feeble lie about how I was doing research on paganism and occult literature for an article I was writing and then I asked him about the books. When I mentioned the names of the books I caught his full attention. He abandoned the box of cheap paperbacks and stood up while removing his glasses.

I hoped that the books weren’t so taboo to him that he’d brush me off but he seemed to regard them as more hype and hyperbole than anything else. He explained to me that he had definitely heard of these fabled books but had never actually seen a copy of either the Necronomicon or the Cultes de Goules. I asked him if he thought he could get me copies and if so, how much they might run. He told me that people in certain circles paid hefty amounts for even the poorest condition copies of them. He guessed that tens of thousands of dollars was probably the ballpark figure.

It was at this point that I asked him if he knew just what sort of things were written in the books and what their histories were. He told me that the Necronomicon had been written by an Arab named Alhazred in the eighth century. Apparently Alhazred was exiled into the desert and turned to dark sorcery in an attempt to gain power and revenge over the ones who had banished him. The book chronicled his wanderings around the Middle East as he searched for the most shunned and forbidden secrets of necromancy and black magic. Supposedly Alhazred revealed in minute detail the spells and rites on how to conjure some really powerful demons. We’re talking messing around with some really dangerous beings. It eventually cost Alhazred his life. Supposedly he was flayed to death by an unseen demon in broad daylight in the middle of a busy marketplace.

The Cultes de Goules was written in the 1700’s by the Comte d’Erlette. Grosche’s knowledge wasn’t as good on it as it was on the Necronomicon, but he told me it was banned by the church because it was another book that gave explicit details on how to conjure demons. He said that what made it so reviled was that it condoned cannibalism and the consumption of the dead as a means of gaining power over the undead.

He then told me that he did have a few books that he thought might give me some more information on these books and other similar works. I told him that I was interested and he bade me follow him to a back room. After some looking around through stacks of books, he proceeded to present me with a copy of the Nocturnicon, which was one of the books in Hall’s house. He explained that it was a book of magic instruction heavily influenced by the Necronomicon. Another book he managed to find was called The Gates of the Necronomicon which he explained was a book supposedly of some of the exact spells copied right out of the Necronomicon. The last book was an occult encyclopedia that had entries on both books plus a whole slew of other related materials and topics.

We chatted some more and I thanked him for helping me out with so much information. I bought the books and returned home to see what else I could learn about just what Hall and Billingsley might be involved in.

*

According to the copy of Radcliffe’s Occult Encyclopedia that I bought from Mr. Grosche, after death a body still holds a vital essence that is tied to the spirit of the person. Once the soul has been excised from the material plane this vital essence no longer resides in the body. Only then can a person be truly dead. A person who is dead but still retains their vital essence may be resurrected. They are said to be “undead”. Both the Necronomicon and Cultes de Goules describe two creatures that feed on the dead. These creatures happen to be bitter enemies. The first creature is the ghoul. They have a prominent part in mythology and most people have heard of them. The ghoul eats the flesh of the dead but only if it still contains the vital essence. Ghouls are described as being short of stature, having dark skin that is almost black, possessing slender limbs and distended bellies. The other creature is the chaklah’i. Where the ghoul is humanoid, the chaklah’i is more akin to a creature that runs on all fours like a wolf or hyena. They run in packs and are described as having a large bat-like face, a large mouth with long teeth, the hind quarters of a wild dog and long, slender arms that are dark and end in humanoid, clawed hands. Unlike the ghouls, they feast on the vital essence of a dead person instead of the tissue. They will also stalk a living victim and surround them. Their forms are not of the material plane and they will surround the victim in such a way that the victim suffocates due to the displacement of air. One can see how these two creatures are in competition with each other over a fresh cadaver, but feed on it in different ways. While rifling through The Gates of the Necronomicon I discovered spells for conjuring both these beasts.

Yesterday I was sitting, staring out of the barred window and daydreaming about the times I used to go canoeing down the Coosa River when Percy snuck up beside me and started talking about Roba el Khaliyeh and G’nar’ka. How could he know those names! My will was at its lowest and I lost it. I began striking him over and over. He fell to the ground and I pounced on him like a wild dog on its prey. I continued pounding my fist into his face. Blood flew and he curled up into a ball but I never relented. When the orderlies pulled me off of him he just laid there in the fetal position shaking and whimpering. The last time I felt that relieved was the night I set upon Billingsley and Hall with the ax. They moved me to solitary confinement, which is a goddamned blessing. Now, at least, I don’t have all of the crazies to deal with.

*

Professor Hall’s research paralleled Dr. Billingsley’s in many ways. Hall had studied Native American culture for numerous years with a particular focus on the tribes of the Creek Nation that once lived in modern day Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida. This is what brought him to be a professor at Coosada University. Just within the local area were some of the locations of the larger Creek communities: Coosada, Wetumpka, Tallassee, Tuskegee, and Tukabatchee. Professor Hall had presided over a major archaeological dig across the Coosa River in the town of Wetumpka at what used to be the capitol of the Creek Nation known as The Hickory Ground. When the Poarch Band of Creek Indians wanted to put up a casino on the land, he was at the forefront of the faction of archaeologists and Creeks who wanted the sacred site preserved.

Where his research left the mainstream and really began to sound eerily familiar to Billingsley’s work was in his research of the burial customs of the Choctaws. The Choctaws had amongst their people the strange men called the bonepickers. They were unique in their role amongst their tribe. They covered themselves in tattoos that were unique to the bonepickers and grew their fingernails long and pointed. Whenever someone died, a tall scaffold was built near his or her home. The body was placed atop the scaffold for a set period of time – in most villages the time was four months but could be shorter or longer. It was typical for the women to visit the scaffold and wail and moan their plaintive sorrows.

When the allotted time had passed, it was time for the bonepickers to appear for their gruesome task of cleaning the bones of what remained of the rotted and decayed flesh. Once the bones were picked clean, they were gathered into a box or bundle and placed in a common house with other Indians who had died from the village. There would be much crying and chanting during this ritual, but once the bones were deposited in the village charnel house, then the mourning period was officially over for the family.

Somehow, Professor Hall claimed he had uncovered evidence that indicated that the bonepickers’ ritual didn’t end with just cleaning the bones. He believed he had the proof to show that the bonepickers were a completely different sect of the Choctaw society who had their own deity and their own, unique worship practices. But most amazing was the claim that they too engaged in ritualistic cannibalism.

*

You have no idea what it’s like to be terrified so bad that you must scream or go mad! I try to scream but it’s impossible to do because I’m suffocating and struggling to just breathe. I imagine myself gasping like a fish out of water, my eyes wide from the terror of the chaklah’i closing in.

*

My real interest in what Hall and Billingsley were up to didn’t begin with the letter. It did spark my curiosity, however. That was further fueled when I saw the two men and Billingsley’s swarthy companions meet on the lawn. At that point I hadn’t done all the research on Hall and Billingsley to start piecing together what sort of monstrous work they were concocting. It was a few nights later that things took a sinister change.

It was during the wee hours of the night – probably one or two a.m. I heard a loud noise next door that woke me up. As I lay in bed listening I could hear voices as if in an argument. Fortunately, I didn’t turn on any lights or I’m afraid of what sort of attention would’ve been brought upon me. I crept from my bed to the window and cautiously peeked through the blinds. My room is on the second story on the same side of the house adjacent to Professor Hall’s house. From my vantage point I could see the side and back yard of his house. I beheld Hall and Billingsley engaged in an argument while the two thugs carried what appeared to be a large canvas bag between them. They were struggling with the load while Hall and Billingsley gesticulated over what appeared to be the direction which the two men should carry their bulky load. As I watched, I saw the two men readjust their load and this caused the end of the sack to open and a portion of a human body flopped out! This caused Hall and Billingsley to both erupt into a torrent of curses hurled at the two henchmen, and while they scrabbled to replace the body, Hall and Billingsley looked frantically about. I recoiled from the blinds thinking Billingsley had spotted me and sat against the wall curled beneath the window with my heart thundering in my chest. I expected a pounding on my door at any moment but, thankfully, none came.

*

You may wonder why I never went through the official channels and notified the police. They are inept and a corrupt bunch of fools. That’s why. When my dear wife Lizzy was murdered by some degenerate little thug for the mere contents of her purse, the police treated the investigation in a slipshod and half-assed manner. It was a damnably frustrating ordeal just to get one of their bungling lot to take the time to speak to me about their progress in the investigation much less to actually get off their lazy asses and attempt to find the little bastard who shot and killed her. It was my impression that they assumed that it was impossible to find the murderer when there was little evidence found at the scene of the crime. They didn’t even bother to try. So I decided to do my own investigative work and figure out just what sort of horrible crimes Hall and Billingsley were up to so that when I did decide to call the authorities, all of the evidence against them would be collected already.

*

The Voynich Manuscript is one of the most enigmatic books in existence. It has a strange history and has thwarted all the best cryptologists in the world who have attempted to decipher it. The historical record first mentions it being associated with that strangest of alchemical noblemen, Rudolph II of Bohemia. Rudolph reportedly paid an unknown seller the amount of three hundred gold ducats in 1586 to procure the manuscript. This was an extremely high price for the day to pay for one book. Some theorize that the unknown person had forged a fine fake and pulled the wool over Rudolph’s eyes. But while Rudolph was an eccentric man – he was known to employ astrologers, had a regime of giants in his army, and was fascinated by games and codes – he knew alchemy and astrology well enough to be able to detect a phony. Besides, the manuscript was accompanied by a letter of inspection signed by none other than John Dee attesting to its merit and claiming that Dee believed the manuscript to be written by Roger Bacon himself. Rudolph entrusted the manuscript to his director of botanical gardens Jacobus de Tepenecz. Jacobus was entrusted with not only the task of growing all of the alchemical herbs and vegetables that Rudolph required, but was also overseer of Rudolph’s alchemical cuisine. At some point the manuscript mysteriously passed into the possession of a Jesuit monastery where it was placed and forgotten in their library. It wasn’t until 1912 that the scholar named Voynich discovered and presented it to the world to try and decipher. But no one was able to crack the language. One can imagine the ripple made through the Antiquarian community when Billingsley announced he had made a complete deciphering of the Voynich Manuscript. This excitement was quickly followed by waves of horror when it was discovered that his translation revealed the manuscript to be a spell/recipe book for a fiendish cult of cannibals.

*

Being removed from the other lunatic inmates was a welcome relief at first but at least they offered some semblance of human contact. Now I just spend my days brooding in isolation. Last night I had a dream about Lizzy. She was radiant in her beauty and smiling at me. I approached her and we kissed a long lingering kiss. And then to my horror I began to suffocate and tried to pull away from her. Her face and hands grew and closed around my head. It seemed like an eternity that I struggled unable to draw a breath. Finally I woke as if being yanked from submersion to the darkness of my cell. But just before I woke, I caught the glimpse of Lizzy. She was transformed into a hideous bat-like creature.

*

The next day after I saw the body flop out of the bag, I set up a watch on Hall’s house. It was just before noon that the four men left the house. I didn’t have long to act so I screwed up my courage and determined to take my camera into Hall’s house to take a photo of the victim. I snuck over the fence in my backyard that adjoined Hall’s yard and crept up to the back of the house. My adrenaline rush caused my heart to race and I felt exposed as I tried the back door. It was locked so I began to test each of the windows. It dawned on me that I didn’t really have a fully formulated plan on how to proceed should all of the doors and windows be locked. Then, to my surprise, one of the windows lurched up a couple of inches as I applied pressure to it. I managed to get it up high enough to wriggle through. Upon entering the house I paused to formulate an exit strategy should the group of four return. I shut the window I had entered through and then I located the back door and opened it. I locked it but left it open an inch or so. If they returned I would sprint out the back door closing it behind me and have to vault the fence back to the safety of my own backyard.

I wasted no time in scouring the house. Each room on the main and upper floors held no indication of any nefarious activity, though. The only other place to look was the cellar and as I opened the door onto the stairwell descending into its dark and musty depths, a cold shiver swept over my skin. There was a solitary light bulb that I turned on but it only seemed to add more ominous shadows to the stairs rather than dispel the dark. I was in a hurry, though, and I decided to quickly climb down and plunge into whatever might be waiting in the cellar.

I reached the bottom and found a switch, which lit another lonely bulb in the cellar. What it illuminated was a horribly grotesque altar that seemed to be dedicated to the worship and practice of some occult black magic. I was repulsed by the blasphemous nature of the whole décor of the cellar. There were strange idols all around, sconces of black candles, strange shapes and symbols adorned the floor and walls, and a table in the center of the room contained many books and several large knives. I knew immediately that this was where they had brought the body to do what now appeared some sort of dark ritual; however, I could find no trace of the body anywhere. All the signs of foul play screamed to me from this dark cellar. I felt ill at ease and knew that I could afford little time searching too thoroughly. I decided to take several pictures of the room. As I took pictures of the several books littering the table in the center of the room I paused tempted to browse their contents, but I figured that I could research them at my leisure if I took photos of their titles. There was the copy of what I would learn was Billingsley’s supposed translation of the Voynich Manuscript, the Cultes de Goules, the Necronomicon, the Nocturnicon, the Song of Morrighunb, and the Book of Nod. I suppressed my urge to open these strangely named tomes and got out of the house as quickly as possible.