Within Stranger Aeons, page 1
Other works by Michael Fisher
Feral Hearts (with Edward Cardillo, Mark Woods, Jim Goforth, Amanda M. Lyons, and catt dahman)
It Always Bites You in the End (Coming 2016)
Water Water Everywhere (Coming Soon)
Anthologies containing his Short Stories
Rejected for Content: Splattergore
Rejected for Content 2: Aberrant Menagerie
Doorway to Death
Urban Legends: Emergence of Fear
Floppy Shoes Apocalypse
Axes of Evil 2 (Out of Print)
TrollKind: Under the Bridge
FvM: The Deadliest of the Species
Suburban Secrets 3: Home Invasion (Coming 2016)
Rejected for Content 4: Highway to Hell (Coming 2016)
Within Stranger Aeons
Lovecraft’s Mythos in the 21st Century
Edited by: J. Ellington Ashton Staff
Cover Art by: Meister Arthur Dunkel / Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher, H.P. Lovecraft, Andew Bell, Mord McGhee, Juan J. Gutierrez, Owen Barrass, Kevin Candela, William Henry Tucker, Roy C. Booth, Ashley Dioses, Andrew J. Lucas, Essel Pratt, G. Zimmerman, Brian Barr, Mark Woods, Justin Hunter, Amanda M. Lyons, Dona Fox, Charie D. Lamarr
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book, including the cover and photos, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher. All rights reserved.
Any resemblance to persons, places living or dead is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.
This book is dedicated to the grandfather of Cosmic Horror, the creator of the ever-expanding Cthulhu Mythos, the Gentleman from Angell Street, the Old Man of Providence, known as Lewis Theobald, Ward Phillips, Edward Softly, Humphrey Littlewit, but most often as
H. P. Lovecraft
Table of Contents
Foreward by Michael Fisher
NYARLATHOTEP by H. P. Lovecraft
NEW YEAR’S DAY by Andrew Bell
THAT THING ABOUT FEINBERG by Mord McGhee
GÄNNA by Juan J. Gutierrez
OLDBOOK by Glenn Owen Barrass
FROM THE MURKY DEPTHS by Michael Fisher
GORLOTH: LIVE AND ON FIRE! by Kevin Candela
THE THING IN THE TUB by William Henry Tucker and Roy C. Booth
VEXTERIA by Ashley Dioses
NAMELESS ONE by Andrew J. Lucas
TRUTH BEHIND THE LIES by Essel Pratt
THE POTHOLES HORROR by G. Zimmerman
A VISAGE OF GREAT TRUTHS by Brian Barr
ALWAYS READ THE SMALL PRINT by Mark Woods
ALGOL by Juan J. Gutierrez
THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE by Justin Hunter
A NATURAL MOTHER by Amanda M. Lyons
FAIR WARNING by Dona Fox
ADJUDICATION by Charie D. Lamarr
This book could not have been created without the wonderful contributing authors, the understanding staff at J. Ellington Ashton Press, and my exceedingly tolerant wife, Jenn
This book you hold in your hands, whether it be in a collection of bits and bytes of data or the corpses of slaughtered and mutilated trees which have been tattooed with the words before you, is filled with the souls of these humble writers. To you, the reader, it is merely entertainment, the submersion of the mind in the fantastic worlds created by others. To those on the other side of the page, this is the result of untold hours of work, frustrations, scrutiny by the evil overlords controlling the project, editing, re-editing, layout and, finally, publication. Many people submitted their humble creations to the discerning eyes of yours truly. Not all stories submitted made the cut. Others understood the line drawn by Lovecraft and his acolytes who followed and leapt over it, embracing the concepts as their own.
Some of the stories to follow may scare you. That is a good thing but not the ultimate goal of the honorable Mr. Lovecraft. He strove not to merely scare, but to unnerve the mind, terrify the soul, make the world—no, the universe—a much more horrifying place to exist. This was through his concept of Cosmic Horror, that out there amongst the stars, in that emptiness between world, there lies indescribable being, creatures beyond the grasp of the human mind. These beings, whether they are the Great Old Ones like Great Cthulhu, Outer Gods like Nyarlathotep or Elder Gods such as Nodens, do not exist seeking the supplication and worship of the puny insects known as Man. They have their own struggles, battles and punishments to which we are simply innocent bystanders, bystanders struggling to survive these, wars that had begun long before the human race existed on this small blue rock.
These beings, especially the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods, are beyond the comprehension of the rational mind, the mere sighting of one would commonly drive the pathetic human mind to irrevocable madness. Generally, in the Cthulhu Mythos, those who die quickly are the lucky ones. Those who survive tend to fall down the steep spiral into insanity for which no psychotropic drugs or therapy can ever hope to draw them back to the light. Lovecraft famously wrote, “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” While most aficionados of his work understand that he was specifically referring to the contents of the mind, but I also feel his was referring to the contents of the world itself, and the greater universe beyond. Should the human mind even attempt to grasp the sheer enormity of the universe beyond our view, it will most surely snap. Most people have a general concept of the vastness of space, but do they truly understand it? I highly doubt it as there are over one hundred billion galaxies known to the human race, likely more. Each of those galaxies is comprised of countless star systems and each of those stars is likely home to numerous planets and moons. Numbers of that size are far beyond the grasp of normal people, people who really have clue what a billion really looks like, let alone over a hundred billion.
Now imagine that, somewhere out there in the vastness of space, amidst those near-infinite worlds, there exists creatures, nay beings of godlike power, possessing forms far from the biped or quadruped mammals or even the many-legged insects of Earth. The tentacular forms of cephalopods combined with the powerful musculature of mammals combined, still with the amorphous nature of microscopic organisms. Take that horror of a creature, magnify the bizarreness of its form by a thousand, all the while giving it power enough to make mankind as meaningless and helpless as fleas. Those are the beings which are the basis of Lovecraft’s Mythos. It has been foretold that when the stars are right, these Great Old Ones will return to take over this world, and others out in the void, and their arrival will herald the end of the Age of Man
Those are the beings which are the subjects of the stories within this volume. From the muggy swamps of Florida to the cool cityscapes of England, from institutions housing the madness of the Old Ones to houses simply awaiting its arrival, these authors have moved the standard era of the Mythos story from the
While the stars are right, you will find yourself Within Stranger Aeons, where even Death may die. Hopefully, you will be one of the lucky ones to die quickly.
While H.P. Lovecraft is the commonly credited as the godfather of modern horror, many readers these days don’t bother reading his work. In fact, I was once told that Lovecraft could well be the world’s best loved unread author. This is likely due to the archaic language he chose to use in his prose, largely due to the fact that the man himself felt out of time. Not in a way that sensed his early demise, but rather Lovecraft felt he belonged in the Nineteenth Century with his inspirations such as Edgar Allen Poe, Robert W. Chambers, Lord Dunsany and Arthur Machen.
As Lovecraft was as much an influence on modern horror authors as Poe, Chambers and Machen were to him, I ask you give the Master a chance. Please enjoy his early entry into the Mythos, Nyarlathotep, as a bit of an appetizer for the savory meal to come. While it is not in the Twenty-First Century, like the rest of the book, it does set the tone better than anyone else could. Enjoy.
Nyarlathotep . . . the crawling chaos . . . I am the last . . . I will tell the audient void. . . .
I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons—the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.
And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences—of electricity and psychology—and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.
I remember when Nyarlathotep came to my city—the great, the old, the terrible city of unnumbered crimes. My friend had told me of him, and of the impelling fascination and allurement of his revelations, and I burned with eagerness to explore his uttermost mysteries. My friend said they were horrible and impressive beyond my most fevered imaginings; that what was thrown on a screen in the darkened room prophesied things none but Nyarlathotep dared prophesy, and that in the sputter of his sparks there was taken from men that which had never been taken before yet which shewed only in the eyes. And I heard it hinted abroad that those who knew Nyarlathotep looked on sights which others saw not.
It was in the hot autumn that I went through the night with the restless crowds to see Nyarlathotep; through the stifling night and up the endless stairs into the choking room. And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms amidst ruins, and yellow evil faces peering from behind fallen monuments. And I saw the world battling against blackness; against the waves of destruction from ultimate space; whirling, churning; struggling around the dimming, cooling sun. Then the sparks played amazingly around the heads of the spectators, and hair stood up on end whilst shadows more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted on the heads. And when I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, mumbled a trembling protest about “imposture” and “static electricity”, Nyarlathotep drave us all out, down the dizzy stairs into the damp, hot, deserted midnight streets. I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We sware to one another that the city was exactly the same, and still alive; and when the electric lights began to fade we cursed the company over and over again, and laughed at the queer faces we made.
I believe we felt something coming down from the greenish moon, for when we began to depend on its light we drifted into curious involuntary formations and seemed to know our destinations though we dared not think of them. Once we looked at the pavement and found the blocks loose and displaced by grass, with scarce a line of rusted metal to shew where the tramways had run. And again we saw a tram-car, lone, windowless, dilapidated, and almost on its side. When we gazed around the horizon, we could not find the third tower by the river, and noticed that the silhouette of the second tower was ragged at the top. Then we split up into narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a different direction. One disappeared in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a weed-choked subway entrance, howling with a laughter that was mad. My own column was sucked toward the open country, and presently felt a chill which was not of the hot autumn; for as we stalked out on the dark moor, we beheld around us the hellish moon-glitter of evil snows. Trackless, inexplicable snows, swept asunder in one direction only, where lay a gulf all the blacker for its glittering walls. The column seemed very thin indeed as it plodded dreamily into the gulf. I lingered behind, for the black rift in the green-litten snow was frightful, and I thought I had heard the reverberations of a disquieting wail as my companions vanished; but my power to linger was slight. As if beckoned by those who had gone before, I half floated between the titanic snowdrifts, quivering and afraid, into the sightless vortex of the unimaginable.
Screamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the gods that were can tell. A sickened, sensitive shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastly midnights of rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with sores that were cities, charnel winds that brush the pallid stars and make them flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrous things; half-seen columns of unsanctified temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath space and reach up to dizzy vacua above the spheres of light and darkness. And through this revolting graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods—the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nyarlathotep.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
I thought I saw Philip J. Smith the other morning as I locked my apartment door. I was in a rush to get to work, and it had snowed heavily during the night, so it could have been the stress playing games with my mind. I’m sure it was him, though.
He looked a far cry from the fresh faced thirty-two year old man that I once knew. His face was as white as parchment. Hair that once flowed across his shoulders like jet black ink was now thin and straggly, grey patches were unmistakable at his temples. His sunken cheeks sported a beard that was nothing more than a scratch pad. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was his deeply set eyes that struck me. Dark lines were etched below them. He resembled a girl that had seen a lifetime of hu
I caught all of this in one instant, for as I looked back to see if it was him, he had disappeared. At least I thought he had disappeared, for whoever had stood in front of my apartment block, a figment of my imagination or not, they had left two large foot prints in the snow. A shiver ran through my legs, and I felt my scrotum tighten. I looked around, surveying the street for other pedestrians, but I was alone. The dark morning sky was smattered with twinkling stars, my breath was harsh and fast; the cold air scraped its nails across the wall of my lungs.
No foot prints lead to or from the ones in front of me. Someone had been there, but how?
I thought about Philip all morning, unable to concentrate on my work. He had been missing for nearly three years. When I think about that fateful night, my skin crawled. I should have taken him seriously when he told me about the nightmares-
The sound of the voice almost shook my entire body. I grabbed my coffee cup, suddenly realising that it had cooled a long time ago. It spilled over my fingers and pooled upon the table.
Tina Billingham looked radiant. Her green eyes were almost bright emerald beneath the cold fluorescent lights. Her smile broadened at my appraisal of her, especially the two empty top button holes of her white blouse. Her hair was a shock of red, like feathers. It was short, but not masculine by any means.
“I’ll get you another,” she said, turning to the coffee machine before I had time to protest. I must admit, a smile creeping across my lips, the view from here was pretty good.