Archive for Wyrdtails

Playing Favorites #FirstBorn

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2017 by Occult Detective

Cover 01 First BornOver on twitter, a friend dropped me a congratulatory note via DM regarding the release of my occult detective collection, First Born: Tales of the Monstrorum.

We chatted back and forth for a bit, them politely asking about the collection, what stories were included, how many were unique to the work, and so on.

They mentioned reading the blog in which I shared my favorite illustration from the book, and then they dropped a heavy question on me — of all the stories in First Born, which was my favorite?

Man, that was a tough one, but answer it I did, with a short response. Here’s a longer version of it —

For the longest time, I would have named Mourn Not the Sleepless Children as my favorite. It was originally published by Burning Effigy Press back in 2009, part of a chapbook anthology entitled Fresh Blood. It was one of three stories, the others written by Dave Alexander and the horribly underrated Kelli Dunlap (better known now as Kelli Owen).

I worked closely with Monica Kuebler, BEP’s editor-in-chief, and I was so proud of the final product. To this day, Monica was the best editor I’ve worked with. She was professional, courteous, and helped me polish that story and make it something special.

Thankfully, in the chronology of events in my Liber Monstrorum tales, it comes first and thus was the lead story in First Born. It’s a great lead off and is a great showcase for what I can do when everything is clicking just right.

That being said, another story has supplanted it as my most favored tale. That distinction now falls on Wyrdtails.

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Wyrdtails was written and serialized back in December of 2014, one of those “writing without a net” Harlan Ellison writing exercises I’m so fond of. I had no idea where the story was going, no idea from where it even sprang. It just fell out of my keyboard onto this website, growing in the telling.

We learned a lot more about Landon Connors, his father Ashton, the Order of the Sacred Hart, and saw Greg Mitchell’s ghost come out to play a bit.

In a lot of ways, Wyrdtails has been my most quintessential occult detective story, made all the more special because it came from the ether, like, seemingly, all the best stories do.

So, there you have it. If you’re curious, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum is available via numerous online retailers, but as Amazon seems to be the overlord of that heap, I’ll direct you there by way of the following link. If someplace else is more appealing to you, I trust your google fu will serve you accordingly.

 

Wyrdtails: A Landon Connors Supernatural Thriller

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , on December 30, 2014 by Occult Detective

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I was dressed, after a fashion, as how I thought the deceased would best recognize me — black t-shirt and blue jeans, scruffy jogging shoes, and a red bandana sticking out of my back pocket. I hadn’t really planned it, though it made sense to me after the fact. I just couldn’t be bothered with climbing into a suit. It felt unnatural and pretentious. The day was difficult enough without putting on the accepted uniform of grief. I was confident most of the people in the chapel considered my attire disrespectful, but I was pretty damn sure the deceased didn’t mind.

There was that word again. I mulled it over and rolled it on my tongue. Deceased. As in no longer with us. It had an improper finality to it, I thought. An improper word for an improper occurrence. An improper, and improbable occurrence of a finality. As these and other thoughts collided during my short walk up the aisle of my discontent, I was bemused by the certainty, as certain as any finality, that I was well on my bloody way to cracking up.

That too made perfect sense, as perfect as the imperfection of my working class affectation. It was, after all, madness that put my oldest and dearest friend within the confines of the coffin before me. Our shared experience surely guaranteed a similar reaction to the events preceding the deceased’s demise. I was unsure of a lot of things. This was most assuredly not one of them. In fact, I was so sure that madness, the very same that had taken root within the cranium of my now departed compatriot, was tilling the fertile soil of my most inner being, that I had resolved to take matters into my own hands, if not in the same manner as the deceased, then in a more proactive, and perhaps, more satisfying fashion.

Staring down at the corpse-in-a-box, I knew it not. Lying there, in state, was an unknown and unwelcome shell, a lifeless doppelganger wearing a poorly constructed mask of the man I had loved in life and loved more now with his passing. We had been all but inseparable for nearly forty years. We met on a playground in grade school, bonding over our mutual affections for Marvel Comics, The Six Million Dollar Man, and the hottest band in the world — KISS. As we grew older, we discovered girls together and double dated. We experimented with drugs and fell into arcane literatures and tumbled down the rabbit hole of esoterica. We dropped out of college together, shared apartments, and worked in the same meaningless and menial jobs that fed our addictions to alcohol, psychedelics, and books.

Continue reading

Finally — the conclusion to Wyrdtails

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , on December 30, 2014 by Occult Detective

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“Why?” I pleaded. “Why, in the name of all that’s holy, are we doing this?”

The occult detective stared up at me from the freshly dug grave and returned a spiteful look.

“Because you fucked up, Professor Murdock,” he spat. “It may have been when you wore a younger man’s clothes, but they were your clothes just the same.”

“Wyrd,” I heard a disembodied voice add. My skin crawled at the thought.

“Not that,” I replied. “I full well understand my culpability in this matter. What I don’t understand is why we’re digging up the grave of Thaddeus Sexton? If this devil is loosed upon the world, released from my departed friend’s vessel, then what possible reason could you have for desecrating his final resting place.”

“Because,” Connors said, clearing away the last bit of earth from the vault lid, “this was the sub-prince’s last known address. He spent a helluva long time trapped in the Honorius, but he got soft and fleshy for a bit in your pal, and it’s recent enough that there’s still a bond there. When I’m through calling, he’ll come running.”

“And then what?”

“Well, Professor,” he replied, grunting through the work of lifting the vault lid and revealing Thaddeus’ coffin, “then we use this.”

Connors had drawn from his trenchcoat a dogeared trade paperback. It had been well read, with a dark patch along the fore edge that had discolored by the reader’s oily touch. I knew the book well. It was one of Thaddeus’, a collection of cosmic horror tales that conjured up images of dark and forbidden knowledge and esoterically veiled menaces from otherworldly realms.

Connors returned to the business at hand, exposing the body of Thaddeus Sexton to the elements. A cold, nasty rain began to fall, as if the gods mourned and cried for our defiling of his remains. I longed to weep alongside them, but I was bereft of tears.

I marveled as Connors was helped up from the earthen tomb by his disembodied compatriot. They whispered together and then Connors became a force of nature.

He began by tracing a circle around the grave site, using a vile of some argentate liquid. Then, he meticulously carved runic symbols in the earth, filling each one with a red phosphorous powder. He opened Thaddeus’ collection up to page 93, the beginning of the short story “A Devil by the Tail”, and laid it upon the dirt mound, propped open like some perverse heathen relic atop a pagan altar.

Then, adjusting a silver ring he wore on the middle finger of his left hand, he called down the thunder and the lightning.

“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Take heed! Come, Amaymon! By the virtue and power of your King, by the seven crowns and chains of your Kings, all Spirits of the Hells are forced to appear in my Presence before this Circle of Honorius, whensoever I shall call them. Come, then, Amaymon, at my orders, to take up residence in these consecrated pages, as commanded. Come, therefore, from whatever hole you’re hiding under! I conjure and command you, by the virtue and Power of Him Who is three, eternal, equal, Who is God invisible, consubstantial, in a word, Who has created the heavens, the sea and all which is under fucking heaven!”

For a brief moment, as lightning flashed overhead, I saw a man standing beside the detective, a sad pale reflection, but pious and resolute. Mitchell’s face was racked with anguish as Connors fed off his spiritual energy to enforce this magical act.

Then, the demon came, a swirling black shadowy mass of pure, unadulterated evil. I dropped to my knees, hid my eyes, and covered my ears. I couldn’t bear any more. The eldritch energies at Connors command battled the infernal might of the compelled demon and all I could do was cower before this awesome spectacle, incapable of witnessing the final act, because I was already consumed by madness.

Then, it was over. The rain and thunder and lightning ceased and the world grew calm. I opened my eyes, looking up at the disheveled detective.

“Now what?” I muttered.

He picked up Thaddeus’ book and threw it into my chest. I caught it there and hugged it as I wished I done with Thaddeus before his unnatural demise.

“Now you eat,” Connors spat, exhausted and near-spent. He leaned even heavier on his cane now. “Page 93. Chew it good. Choke every last bite of it down. Then,” he continued, ” on Midwinter’s Eve I’ll come for you. I’ll cut out your heart and burn it, sending Amaymon back to Hell and your debt will be paid.”

He took no joy in his commandment. It was a matter of fact. This was my Wyrd. And now I’ve come to the tail end of my misadventure. I have written this final testament as a way, I suppose, to prepare myself for what is coming.

There’s a demon inside of me, but not for much longer. Soon it will be sent back to Hell and I will join those I loved in life in whatever waits beyond. At long last, I too shall become Autumn.

The End

Tooth or Consequences #wyrdtails

Posted in Writing with tags on December 19, 2014 by Occult Detective

Sorry, kids. Can’t do it. Wyrdtails will finish in 2014, of that I assure you. Will try to do it before Christmas, but no promises at this point. Oral surgery is Tuesday, 12/23.

My current cognizant faculties are limited at best.

Tooth Delay #Wyrdtails

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , on December 18, 2014 by Occult Detective

If you follow me on twitter or facebook (or both) then you’re most likely aware that I’m in the middle of a toothapocalypse (because toothache is so very much the wrong word for this).

I finally got in to see the dentist, but due to infection, inflammation, and the like, I can’t have the tooth addressed until early next week.

So, what’s that got to do with today’s installment of Wyrdtails?

Well, I wrote through the pain on Tuesday, but with the finale lined up, I just don’t feel that grinding my way through the endgame hopped up on antibiotics and pain meds will do the story the justice it deserves.

How about I see if I can get adjusted to the alchemical process that’s churning inside my meat & bone crucible and we shoot for tomorrow instead?

 

 

The sixth installment of Wyrdtails

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , on December 16, 2014 by Occult Detective

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My doing?”

I screamed.

I was well past my breaking point. The creeping madness I’d felt since Thaddeus’ funeral was, at long last, the victor. I surrendered to it, melting into a puddle of rage and tears, towered over by youthful arrogance personified. I reached out and grasped his cane and conjured up the courage to stare up into those contemptuous eyes, shadowed beneath his magical fedora of pretentiousness. Landon Connors blamed me and I felt the truth of it. I felt the weight of guilt upon my soul. This was my sin… my failure… somehow, but what had I done to bring these horrors to life? My beloved’s death? Thaddeus’? This shadow demon from some unknown Hell?

“What have I done?” I blathered.

“Honorius,” he said. “The well and true one.” Connors lit a cigarette and exhaled slowly, the imperious prick. His smug demeanor was grating, to say the least. “It leads back to that one, no?”

“I don’t understand,” I replied, working my way up off the ground. “I’ve owned several copies of various stripes over the years, but there is no true one. And I certainly never possessed one with a thirteenth century provenance.”

“Ah, but therein lies the rub, Murdock. You didn’t, but my father did.”

“Your father? But the last time I spoke to him was…”

“Yeah, I know,” Connors spat, cutting me off, “… it’s been donkey’s ears.” He sauntered over to his Elan and leaned against it, lighting a fresh smoke off the death of the other. I am not a prescient, but I’d wager good odds on how the young Dr. Connors will shuffle off this mortal coil, presuming something preternatural doesn’t do the snuffing.

Age does funny things to a man’s mind. We remember what we choose to remember, often filtered, censored, and reimagined. It’s a coping mechanism, but then every so often, something comes along and slaps us with true remembrance, and seeing Connors, leaning there so cock-sure of himself… it was something in the eyes, a glimmer of entitlement and superiority, the same glint that had shone in his father’s eyes, it ripped my mind awake and I had a moment of lucid recall, violent and inciting.

I was no longer standing beneath the shadow of Taleisyn, but instead within the confines of another house… one that could have very easily been its dark sibling.

Thaddeus and I were at Ashton Connors’ Second Empire on West Hill Street. He had been trying to recruit us into the Sacred Hart. He was called away on some pressing business by… a woman. She was a cypher to me, but the conversation between Thaddeus and myself was vivid. We mocked Connors. We mocked his Order. We… my god… I tore a page from an ancient text, the Sworn Book itself, and rolled a joint with it. Thaddeus and I smoked it. How could I have forgotten that? How we’d laughed and then, when Connors returned, his grim visage… and the woman, she was there, down the hall, by the door. She looked so sad. She… she…

And then I had collapsed again.

I was staring up into the black sky, a sea of stars above me, and Ashton’s son…

“My wife,” I muttered. “My beloved…”

“…was a Sworn Sister of the Order of the Sacred Hart and she was my aunt,” Connors said.

“But…” I stammered, shell-shocked and broken, “… she never… in the name of all that’s holy, why?”

“Because your childish prank woke a dragon,” Connors said, leaning down to me. “My aunt was the shield, my father the sword. Once they’d both passed, it was only a matter of time before the demon was loosed.” He offered me his hand, and we rose together.

“In which of you it would manifest was always a mystery, but they’d gambled, wrongly, that it would be you, given your proclivities,” he continued. “It was obvious to me, once I stumbled upon all this in my father’s journals, that Sexton was the one, however. It was all over his fiction, like a bloody calling card.”

“This is all… insane,” I said. “We were not much more than children. How could we have known?”

“How could you not? You were… you are… more than a student of esoterica. To be so flippant, so arrogant, so damned irresponsible… One immature act, and look what you’ve wrought!” He limped away from me and began addressing something unseen, this mysterious Mitchell.

“How do I make this right?” I pleaded.

“Well, I was all set to thrash you within inches of your life, but Greg has a better idea.”

Greg?”

“Don’t sweat it, professor,” Connors said, walking toward my car and opening the passenger door, “you’ll be seeing him soon enough.”

“Are we going somewhere?” I asked, joining him at my decrepit Oldsmobile.

“We sure are,” he replied, climbing in. I opened the driver’s door and sat down beside him. “You do know the way to Arkham Cemetery, no?”

to be continued
Thursday, December 18

Regarding Wyrdtails

Posted in Occult Detectives, Writing with tags , , , on December 12, 2014 by Occult Detective

From Harlan Ellison’s FAQ page: Is it true that Ellison once wrote a complete story while sitting in a bookstore display window?

Yes. In fact, he has written more than 40 stories that way and in other public places, including a live radio show. He sometimes asks spectators for a story title or theme and produces a story to match on the spot.

“Writing without a net” is one of my favorite exercises. I’ve written several stories in this fashion, including Autumn Moon & the Book of Secrets, Ashes to Ashes, and The Devil’s in the Details, among others. Wyrdtails is just the latest of such experiments and I’ve really enjoyed the writing of it so far.

I’ve been asked what the process is. Well, there isn’t one, really, beyond sitting down before the keyboard and hammering something out for about thirty minutes or so. Beforehand, I do reread what’s come before, just so I can slip back into voice, but otherwise, it’s just me having a go of it.

My brain’s usually churning a million miles a second. It’s why I’ve never written by way of outline. I know something better’s going to pop up any second, so I run with it all, unfettered.

I operate better when I give my imagination free reign, or is that free rein? I think it’s bloody both, no?

So, I expect Wyrdtails will wrap up next week. One more installment. Or maybe two. Feels like an end coming, but then, who’s to say? When one’s writing without a net, anything’s possible.

I fully expect one day to begin one of these things and have it never stop and someone will find me dead at my desk, fingers on the keyboard and on the monitor and ongoing string of the last letter before the end came… an attempt at immortality, to be cut short by a power outage or some paramedic who fails to realize the import of the keystroke into forever —

ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg

Let my critics decipher that once I’m gone.

Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying Wyrdtails. I know I’m digging it on my end.

More next week…

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