|Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 09:19 am: |
The Apocryfan has now reached part 9:
|Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 - 10:28 am: |
Some recently lost items from the 'Weirdmonger Wheel' will be salvaged and posted here shortly.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 - 12:29 am: |
Rogan seemed as if he had been roasted, if not charred, in Hell. He wasn’t racially black, as such. Simply because his skin was a certain colour did not entail anything beyond that fact. Indeed, Rogan’s brother was white - and white, here, meant an absence of colour rather than a creamy pink. Rogan’ s brother was also the Devil in disguise - or that was what so many who encountered him in the course of their lives believed, without the prerequisite of believing in the philosophical possibility of either a God *or* a Devil.
I assumed I, too, was one such problem child to whom reality, if not parents, had given birth. I often saw Rogan, the black one, when I strolled through the gloomy parts of the West End for no obvious reason other than the fact I found myself there. Most of those creatures of the person persuasion which wandered there were at least a darker shade of shape and the shadows hid them even when there was no force to cast shadows nor obstacles to throw or, even, deflect shadows.
Rogan’s reckless brother may simply have been Rogan’s well-cast shadow - and, at first, I found myself attending to the wrong brother after allowing myself, through a daredevil proclivity, to commune with one of them - not that, at the time, did I believe I was actually daring the Devil. Perhaps I taunted the Devil in my own soul, but that I had stirred Rogan as opposed to Rogan’s brother from his sleep in the palace of dreams was more luck than judgement day.
Rogan told me to sit where his shadow sat so that we could chew the fat together, since he guessed I was as eager for thought as food. Our head-to-head was a heart-to-heart interrupted, sadly, by someone I was soon to know as Rogan’ s brother. The latter loomed from the yellow lungfuls of Chinatown like a ghost - saying he was on track for Limehouse and would we come? Rogan answered him with an echoing shrug, returning to the priority of prattling with me. The brother hovered fixedly, hoping to make a threesome, his icy eyes speaking misread volumes of silence. The best was he’d go away without having first come.
Maybe I was deceived as to the real Rogan. The act of hearing him talk was indeed so self-sufficient I did not even listen to what he said, companionship being the sole motive I had in defying childhood’s instilled fear of strangers. His brother stood naked in clothes - the only words to describe his outfit, in striking contrast to Rogan and myself both of whom had things appended that made limbs look vestigial.
I later remembered Rogan’s words and, consequently, was able to chew over and deduce their meaning, having a sound memory (as opposed to the more commonplace photographic one that some stupid people wielded instead of intelligence). Rogan told me, then, that I was a kindred spirit, so kindred he had indeed lived my life vicariously. He knew my loves and hates. My sorrows and meagre joys. Even each change of mind, as I wended my faltering path between misplaced memories. If I had listened at the time, I would’ve asked why I hadn’t, in turn, lived *his* life - vicariously. He’d’ve nodded and given me the answer. He was nothing if not uneconomical with the truth.
Eventually, I slipped off, without noticeably going. The night was like an atomised mirror of blackness from which shapes took their reflection. My own shape straggled eastward, but even Limehouse was power-cut - except for the ghostly white shadow I shed for strangers to deem stranger (and fearfuller) than themselves. Perhaps I was a hero with horror as his honorific. More likely, I *was* the brother.
I know this was published before in print (early nineties?), but records have been lost. Any info would be welcome.
|Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2007 - 04:21 am: |
SHADOWS AND SALT-MASKS
"Creaming with a winy foam, full of strange murmorous voices and vague tales of exotic things"—as the dead sage famously once spoke—and fearless of any retroaction of necromantic interference, the halcyon sea swept around the notorighteous Isle of Uccastrog, falsely named that of torturers.
Queen Dalili (once sex-meat of Sha-Karag) did not know how beautiful she was. She kept making excuses about her appearance: inner as well as outer. The Lord did not understand why she was known as a Queen, since there was nothing royal in her miscegenate loin-cream. The skin was tantamount to translucent, bright eyes, a ploughshare nose, cheeks dimpled to the jawbone, chin prominent in beauty's scheme and, to finish the face, a mouth as kissable as the Lord's own. Her mind, by comparison, was a secondary matter. Her mental powers were, in truth, more tantalising than his own. Indeed, whilst he prided himself on unmatchable ratiocination, she veritably put him in the shade of thought, if not its deepest shadows.
The Lord (disguised as a rug-merchant of Zothique) had arrived in Queen Dalili's castellated stronghold en route for the arranged marriage of his daughter to a Prince. He had long since grown tired of the endless cries of swooping gull-corpses, beetling Uccastrogian cliffs, surfing crags and mermaids bleating each to each. The trek along those precarious paths from his own weaker hold was an ordeal, difficult even for those practised in grappling with air and earth. And, of course, accompanying him, in low profile, were many men of cunning, of muscle and of both. His daughter Klarkashta, too.
Klarkashta's ladies-in-waiting (disguised as rugs) were often found flirting and received the edge of her tongue for their pains, when they should have been combing her tresses with their fingers, packing her face with masking cream, dressing, undressing, dressing and undressing her. The weather was not cold, yet its unpredictability ensured Klarkashta dressed well in bristly pile.
The Lord knew, naturally, that his party's first port of call was bound to be at Queen Dalili's. All chosen brides (such as his daughter) at least passed that way. To travel "the last continent beneath a dim sun and sad heavens where the stars come out in terrible brightness before eventide" (as the sage said even in death), one needed to negotiate the spiralling cliff paths, until reaching the OrganGorge—so named because it stopped the sea-curdled surges in their tracks with varieties of musical wheezing. The caves peppering the Gorge, like pits in cheese, were valves; some were narrow apertures which the sea scoured out, making no noise, except perhaps a mock mermaid's cooing for an impossible penetrating love.
In any event, the Lord digresses far from his point. A feminine weakness, no doubt, learned from his daughter amid the wishy-washy dusks of ruby seas. His story really concerns Queen Dalili and one of Klarkashta's ladies-in-waiting. Yet, has the Lord forgotten to mention Xeethra?
Xeethra's anachronistic presence in this true tale of misdeeds and dark sex entails that she should, by rights, remain non-descript. Yet since it was a lady-in-waiting called Xeethra, not his daughter Klarkashta, who fell in with Queen Dalili, it behoves the Lord to fill in a few details about her. Not that there is much to say. Ordinary, but pretty. The masculine minders of low profile paid Xeethra as much attention as they did to the rest, no more, no less, which says more than the Lord's pen can ever do. To his eyes, Xeethra's special quality was her mind. He overheard her talk of matters that he had told his daughter should not worry pretty little heads. About politics. About economics. About philosophy. About necromancy and dying suns and rug-lashed eyes of woven worlds. About nothing. Yes, nothing. Xeethra was able to digress far better than he could. She entered realms of pure nothingness, pure dark or pure light, where logic inevitably took one if pursued far enough. She was able to debate the pros and cons of anything—and anything embraced nothing as well as something.
How Xeethra first became intimate with Queen Dalili, during his party's relatively short stay at the stronghold, will have to remain a mystery, since the Lord asked and asked, cajoled, pulled rank, but Xeethra would not divulge the essence of the first private encounter. The Lord suspects, however, that it concerned ghosts. Yet the particular ghost in question had become nebulous. That was his fault for storing up journal entries over months and months, without actually writing them down as and when they happened: fixing the facts in ink, as he should have done. Good girls always do their journals last thing at night, before memory misfires. So why not Lords?
Suffice it to say, Queen Dalili soon became troubled by a spirit, a dream, a demon, a pair of wings without a body, call it what one might. Xeethra had been temporarily seconded by the Lord to the Queen's service rather than his daughter's. Such domestic details were never his prerogative. Whatever the case, Queen Dalili must have taken a shine to Xeethra, and vice versa—each a reflection of its replica, if the Lord was not too much mistaken (or confused).
The troubling spirit evolved as if the love between the Queen and Xeethra was its catalyst—a word the Lord learned from Klarkashta's new chemistry tutor. Indeed, it is wonderful that he can now employ words which were far from his vocabulary at the time.
Well, how shall he put it, Queen Dalili and Xeethra made forays together into untenable precincts of the stronghold: places about which most of the servants had forgotten, whilst those who did remember to clean them either pretended they had later forgotten or actually remained there pretending to be lost forever until they died and became the sculptural bone-structures that gave such places their atmosphere.
The ghost was not the residue of one such servant. The ghost was indeed more real than a mermaid, albeit less real than any who encountered it.
After several nights of sensuous dalliance, Queen Dalili and Xeethra discovered there were no no-go areas as far as their bodies went. So, as they tired of such heavy petting, they eventually vowed to lay the ghost. They ventured with mere shade-drenched waxflames into those weird forgotten realms, stalking a flapping-cum-clicking which, from time to time, emitted a squawk. There was nothing to see, other than what they imagined they saw. It was daytime outside the stronghold, but that was difficult to believe when in the context of such benighted areas. They did catch, however, the sea’s distant surge and screech—amid the heady stench of swagged fucus redolently seeping through the porous walls—and the wheezing notes of an engorged Zothiquian god neither woman believed or believed in.
"We're following a bat, Madam, not a ghost," chirped up Xeethra, with a cut-off giggle. She was evidently humouring Queen Dalili.
"If it's a bat, Xeethra, then it's just as likely to be a seagull's lost cry or a mermaid's lonely tail-flick swabbing down the kitchen floors." The Queen's voice was deeper here than in the boudoir.
Xeethra squinted at her Mistress and thought she was more frightening than any possible ghost or ghoulie: all shadow now and next to no face. Could this have been the beautiful sharp-nosed creature with whom Xeethra had spent hours at the cost of love?
Xeethra, albeit a simple servant, had now been tutored in passions the Lord was never really to know. Still, he relished the power of jealousy, a passion he guarded even more jealously than the passion itself. Yet, the act of being dressed and undressed ad infinitum could never compensate for what he missed. Made his heart sink.
But, journals are not solely for self-satisfaction. He needed to describe what really happened to Xeethra and Queen Dalili during that moment when both realised the actual nature of the ghost. But he was not privy to it. All he knows is that they eventually emerged, after their expedition, following a trail of red stains into the more functional areas of the stronghold, each carrying one half of a pair of crinkled wings, rather like flattened innards. Then, incense-infused tea and memories.
He could not believe the prattling gossip of the other ladies-in-waiting regarding the truth of the matter—that Xeethra and Queen Dalili had allowed their love for each other to get out of hand in the darkness, inadvertently performing a rather cack-handed mutual surgery within the lower erogenous zones.
Klarkashta, his daughter, married the Prince in another story which will be told by a rug-rat, rather than a sage.
I shall draw a veil over the other loose-tongued rumours which were even more outlandish. Most suns will have died by the time I dare tell it. So, in short, when all the women in my entourage had confirmed that their own bodily tides had mercifully ebbed and when the seas proper had settled from the steep paths, all of us (including a dewy-eyed Xeethra) resumed the hike from the rather heady world of Zothique towards a small town called Drax-Plunkett in Ireland where I would be called a Lord in Earnest—where, indeed, I discovered people are treated no better and no worse than shadows, when all is said and done. Still, I have my own shuttling ghosts to keep me company. Angel-wings, they are.
At least, the castle here is land-locked: gives a certain peace of mind and the potential of blank journal pages. Xeethra has the nicest combing fingers of them all and the sweetest organ stops. I can hear her coming, now, to teach the art of nothing, each to each. Then, tea and mermaids. And sweet-scented tales of far-off lands that once existed despite their rare tenuous passions of spirit and flesh.
(I can't remember writing this story!)
|Posted on Thursday, August 02, 2007 - 01:08 am: |
WORK NOT STRICTLY DONE, BUT NO FURTHER ATTEMPTS WILL BE MADE: http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=1208
|Posted on Thursday, August 02, 2007 - 08:14 am: |
Phantasy is softening things with wings and warm lairs and hiving all our buzzing anxieties in honey.
My favourite fantasy: Lord Dunsany, Hannes Bok, Hope Mirlees, Susanna Clarke, ER Eddison...
SF for me is memories of long periods of reading Jack Vance, Philiip K Dick, Samuel R Delany, Cordwainer Smith in the seventies and eighties.
SF is the bedrock to which and from which other fictions stem(med), even if they cease to be SF in the process.
Horror is for me first reading HP Lovecraft in the sixties then more horror in anthologies of that time all eventually filtered through other genres to reach a perfect genre for me... magic fiction.
Horror is the alchemy of imagination by catharsis and guided madness.
|Posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 - 05:58 am: |
First published in 'The Crypt of Cthulhu' 1991
Inside the Bud By D. F. Lewis
I have dreams whilst dreams have me.
About this time every morning. I wake up with an ending, an indefinable air of having been through something utterly dreadful but equally beautiful. The room is stifling, the wife beside me snoring heavily into her chest as a soldier would in a trench. There is enough light, coming from the gap at the bottom of the bedroom door like bacon rind, to see that the wallpaper is slowly peeling back to reveal the plaster running with glistening sweat.
I sit up and I sit up again
And that is when I wake up as if from several dreams, folded within each other, their petals inex¬tricable.
It’s always the same — the wife mops my brow and takes a ton of it to the water butt outside. She returns with an iced drink which I guggle down voraciously. She tells me to neaten up my tie whilst she brushes up the purple velvet ruff beneath her own chin like an eggcup. We need to be smart on occasions like this; even in bed, one should not have a devil-may-care attitude
The next time I wake up, I feel the bed rocking gently to and fro on its ill-suited legs. “I do tilt thy cot, to cully the fever in thy bloods,” hisses a horned face, emerging monstrously from another bedroom door I did not know was there during the day. I sigh with relief seeing who it was and fall deeply asleep once more.
Now I meet H. P. Lovecraft. He seems to stare expressionlessly from between the holes in his narrow white skull, but I feel he wants to know if he can be of any help in my current troubles.
“I don’t know exactly what troubles you mean,” I say.
“They are self-evident, my good sir, behind your smart appearance. You have no imagination, no sense of wonder — and it is a blend of high outward standards (where there can be no complaints where you are concerned)” — he ran his spidery fingers lightly over the perfect knot in my tie — "with an inner strength to dream: it is that which creates the man from those who only think themselves men.”
He bent closer to me and I continued my rite of passage through his empty eyes into the cathedral dimensions of his skull. I journeyed for what seemed aeons between the hanging temples and well-drilled oxymorons of his mind. Sporadically, I pressed the flower of my ear to the ground and heard the seething whispers of pre-emergent Cthulhu. I knew instinctively that was the name of it, not arriving from the open stars, but from inside the Earth’s own inner cores.
The moral was not lost on me: the Angel Monster and its dreams do come from inside.
“And without the within there can be no without,” are his words which drift with me along the avenue of my return through dreams.
Each morning about this time, I finally wake up and know that tomorrow I can again return through yet more dreams to the deep wells of sight in his homely skull. I now try to remain awake till time for rising, pondering on the dark bliss inside the narrow carapace of his soul.
But, in the end, nearest dawn, I drift off again into lighter sleep, not before ensuring, however, that the knot in my tie is tight against my soft pyjama collar like a bud of involuted petals.
It's HPL's birthday today.
|Posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 - 06:40 am: |
As I'm one of only few who's read the work involved, I'm interested in the apparent revelation in 'Inside The Bud' above that pre-figured 'The Angel Megazanthus' in THE TENACITY OF FEATHERS trilogy of novels (2005/6)!