February 2019 Challenge - The Tales of Cosmic Horror


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Which did you prefer?

Poll ended at March 09, 2019, 06:00:41 AM

Friends Everywhere
1
11%
Shadows Are Not What They Seem…
1
11%
Desert Secrets
1
11%
The Congregationalist Senior Living Home
3
33%
Special Orders
3
33%
 
Total votes : 9
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Post February 21, 2019, 06:00:41 AM

February 2019 Challenge - The Tales of Cosmic Horror

Five authors have gifted us with short tales of cosmic horror this month.

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn!
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Post February 21, 2019, 06:03:05 AM

Friends Everywhere

Friends Everywhere

By: Robin B Lipinski

“Hello,” He said

“Hello,” She said

Genders of generation who forever, in one form or other, salute those friend and stranger.

“Hello,” the plant said

“Hello,” the stone said

“Hello,” the Moon said

“Hello,” the Sun said

Everywhere, in every way, everything greeted everything, everybody… even me

Eternal. Infinity. Time. Ah yes, time… A word for a concept of understanding transitions of matter and energy in a birth/death scenario.

“Hello,” the floor said

“Hello,” the mop said

Everywhere, in every way, everything greeted everything, everybody… even me

“Hello,”

“Hello,”

“Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello…”

Everywhere, in every way, everything greeted everything, everybody… even me

Those moments of greetings piled higher and higher… Then crashing in rebirths would re-enact

Eternity for some, is a very, very, very long ‘time’. Eternity for some is something. Eternity for me is nothing but reality

Never an enemy or foe, as even those in opposition would end up saying, “Hello,” as everywhere, in every way, everything greeted everything, everybody… even me

Being friends everywhere, and in between… is indeed, lonely. Truly lonely as with no conflict comes perfection. To live in the colors of rainbows, the roots of tree’s, the echo of caverns… wonderful true, but with so many, "Hello's..." lonely

To listen is the secret of having friends. To hear, touch, taste everywhere, in every way, everything, everybody… even me

Thankfully and with much respect. Thankfully the Wind greets one such as I, with a greeting… Not a, “Hello,” or ‘words’… No, the Wind says a greeting by embracing and listening to me

The Wind is the only true friend of Death.
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Post February 21, 2019, 06:04:14 AM

Shadows Are Not What They Seem…

Shadows Are Not What They Seem…

By Sergio "ente per ente" Palumbo

Enver Stephens had spent two weeks in that house, studying the place and its mysteries, but he hadn’t discovered much more than what he had immediately noticed during the first two days: Shadows weren’t what they seemed. In other words, the shadows in this house simply didn’t work as they should, under the light of the sun outside, or because of a lamp that illuminated some objects while letting others be taken over by the all-encompassing darkness.

Why things were that way was a matter of debate, and it hadn’t given rise to a definitive answer, at least not so far…

The empty ruined house, that the blond-haired 40-year-old man had difficulty believing was once somebody’s home, had appeared to him to be too silent and too still, save for the whisper of air from an old damaged window that was in the dusty parlour. This place had remained abandoned for about fifty years and now its ownership was in question, as the last heir to this New England property had died about five years ago. There was now no successor who had claimed it as their own, though two or three possible apparent heirs might eventually be found in old papers stored in an old box.

Enver liked to explore houses of a time gone by like this one. He thought that such places were a gift handed down from the old times in their country, and that a full survey of it was needed, in order to complete his book about photos from old buildings and manors in that area.

However, as an experienced photographer, the man had immediately noticed after a few shots that shadows inside the house didn’t behave as they should, according to the rules of beacons and lights. How was that possible?

Shadows were simply dark areas where light from a light source was blocked by an opaque object. The cross section of a shadow looked like a two-dimensional silhouette, or a reverse projection of the object blocking the light. This was science, and this was how things should always be, here and everywhere.

But that wasn’t how shadows behaved inside this house. Their silhouettes seemed to follow different paths, or were changed from one point to another, very strangely, without any possible explanation. Certainly, no light source could cast the strange shadows he had witnessed many times in various areas of the house. It wasn’t due to the wind that moved objects like papers or curtains and blocked the light source differently, and apparently there was no way to find how this was possible here. Enver had visited many old manors in this part of the country, and there had been a few that he had found even more frightening than this one, at least from the outside. The strange shadows inside this house, and their silhouettes however, were outrageous.

He had repeated experiments for days, but the results were always the same. He had read about mysteries like this before.

That was why he had chosen that day, when a solar eclipse would cover the entire area, to do some further experiments in the house. And today was the moment he had been waiting for.

His equipment was already set-up in the main room on the ground floor, and he held his new camera in his quivering hands, the one he had adapted by himself to record what he would see, and presumably discover the house’s secrets.

Then, the sun disappeared outside, slowly at first, then quicker and quicker, while the dim light coming from the window diminished, throwing everything into darkness very soon.

Enver sat there, in the darkness, listening to the racing beat of his heart, his device in his hands.

Then, something appeared or, rather, there was the sensation of a presence nearby, filling the blackness that enveloped him.

This wasn’t what he had expected! What was that?

The name Aylith rushed into his mind. This was one of the Ancient Deities and a servant of Shub-Niggurath. The unearthly being’s voice ruled over the man’s mind as strong and as an icy wind across a flat plain, and resounded as powerful as the cry of a god. And a god-like creature that one was, certainly, as his fearful eyes could see. It seemed to move first to the right and then to the left. But it actually stood in the same place, as the man now understood. And then everything was revealed.

The shape of the strange being was tall, shadowy, and its figure had orangeish glowing eyes, and many strange protrusions like the branches of dead trees. Those branches, aroused and moved by an unearthly wind that blew in from the strange dimension it came from, were what cast that unnatural silhouette of shadows on the walls of the house. Shadows that weren’t what they seemed, this was what was happening! The inexplicable shadows he had found and studied inside the rooms of the house didn’t come from the objects present in the house, but were generated from the movements of the tree-like monster itself, a creature residing in another reality, similar to our own, but different at the same time. The strange shadows in the house were faint reflections of these things that were happening in another world…

Maybe only the coincidence of the eclipse outside had made it possible for that creature to be revealed in full, and enter our reality!

And when those evil pupils turned to the man’s face and stared at him in all of its unholy appearance, turning the darkness into an ever more unsettling environment instead of enlightening it, the appalled Enver knew that what he had discovered - and what he knew now - wouldn’t be of any help to him in escaping that hellish bleak place in time. He wondered if madness would take control of his mind before he could sense the pain of definitive death reaching his now cold body.
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Post February 21, 2019, 06:05:08 AM

Desert Secrets

Desert Secrets

By Michele Dutcher

The one thing, the only thing, that emboldens me to hope now, is the promise that soon the sweet abyss will wash over me, with events once again being lost and hours erased from my mind, as if white-washed completely from the depths of time and space.

Even now, as I walk from one white room to the next, I feel compelled to turn quickly to check behind me, to ascertain if I can catch my past being disassembled by some unseen hand, the rooms and hallways fading behind me, never to be visited again.

The doctors tell me the vials of liquid will allow me only to revisit my recent time spent in the desert, where I was hired merely to transport misplaced packages from one city to another. A different person might have asked themselves: what are the packages fleeing from and fleeing to? However, these questions never bothered me before those horrible events in the desert occurred, as my only goal then was to put money into my pocket.

I must tell you quickly – while I am lucid to a degree – about the packages I was placed in charge over. I can see their sad, dark eyes sometimes in my nightmares, staring at me hungrily from behind chain-link fencing. As I walked through the warehouse where the small packages laid about on the floor at night - twisted this way and that - sometimes I could hear them chanting to themselves softly, reminiscent of the few times I had heard similar chanting in monasteries when I myself was a child. Soft words repeated over and over, then unexplained, now understood...but I get ahead of my story.

I would be lying if I told you I was happy when asked to head-up a caravan of yellow trucks filled to capacity with tiny packages, for even then I had my doubts. However, when I was told how much our caravan would be paid for each successful delivery per head, my apprehensions quickly were replaced with joyous fantasies of what I would do with the money earned.
Of course mine was not the only yellow truck in our odd parade through the desert, as there were five in total, each one with a driver and a supervisor to ensure the submission of the packages. Even now something tries to break through the sludge behind my eyes, something screaming to me about the packages and the yellow trucks.

We waited to leave until almost dusk, loading the packages quickly and efficiently, although some sobbed and others hissed under their breath. After making certain the parcels were strapped in, I noticed one of the cars in the parking lot began to honk rhythmically, as if someone had bumped into it…but there was no one there. Its turn signals flashed along with the beat of the horn.
I looked at the packages through the rearview mirror: their tears were dried now and some were pounding their fists into their open palms, muttering something.

“Bill, what’s going on back there?” I shouted, motioning for the monitor to come up to the front.

“I don’t know, Stanley. The kids are all murmuring some nonsense. Once we get started they’ll settle down.”

I turned the engine over and it started immediately – but then it shut down. Odd. I tried again and the same thing happened.

I shouted to my co-worker, “Tell them to shut up! I can’t hear the engine!” The chanting, however, continued to grow louder and louder. I won’t pretend to have studied world myths and religions. If only I had been privileged at an early age to be exposed to some basic classes on ancient religions, especially those from the depths of South America, perhaps I would have been prepared for what happened next.

Suddenly, more and more of the cars parked beside the yellow trucks began beeping and flashing in unison with the first one, the sound growing louder and louder as the number of cars grew, until the hundreds of cars parked there were beeping and the sound was deafening. The men in our convoy stepped outside the buses, at a loss what to do with the useless vehicles, including me.
The drivers, the monitors, the wild-eyed children – everyone was suddenly outside looking upward as the skies darkened, growing ever blacker, blacker. The clouds were no longer wisps – rather they seemed to be liquefied masses, swirling, spiraling. The children now shouted one name in unison – perhaps some demon from their religion – Cthulhu! Cthulhu!

Suddenly I could understand the children’s language and their pleas: ‘Rise now, great old one, rise from your glacial grave and transport your greatness to us, your servants. Destroy our enemies, harvest their souls to satisfy your eternal hunger!’

We stood there, a dozen men against the whirlpool of winds, when a jagged tear appeared in the sky overhead. One tentacle pierced through, grabbing up one of the other men, jerking him upwards, breaking his back immediately. Suddenly the ancient evil was in full view above us. Tentacles grabbed the other men around me, pulling them into mouths on a dozen stalks, sharp teeth ripping my co-workers into pieces, their falling blood stinging my face in the tornado. I could not move.

Three pairs of leather wings beat the air in the center of the vortex, as the creature looked upon us with its terrible eyes – the children shouting for joy as their champion now showed its terrible glory.

Suddenly, the creature disappeared and I fell to my knees, weeping uncontrollably. When I looked up again, the children had disappeared with the creature, perhaps into whatever dimension it had come from, perhaps to the frozen glacier from which the children had summoned the creature.

They now call me insane. Their interrogations are unceasing, being led from one white room to the next. But I have no answers to where the children went. The only thing I have now is madness.
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Post February 21, 2019, 06:05:58 AM

The Congregationalist Senior Living Home

The Congregationalist Senior Living Home

By JonTrue

As, undoubtedly, the only sane, mortal soul remaining in this building, I find it my solemn responsibility to detail an account of the last few hours. I cannot be certain that the madness outside my door will dissipate, or if indeed anyone will ever find this modest note. If there is but a chance that my words will not be left to decay moldy in the ages to come, my time will not be in vain, but perhaps, will provide a clue as to the mystery of the Congregationalist Senior Living Home.

Even on an ordinary day, the nomenclature Senior Living Home seems outlandish. Most here are empty husks waiting to die. Of our six hundred residents, a number that ebbs and flows, a minimum of three are carried out every day, paraded through the front courtyard and under the ancient magnolia tree on a gurney; clanking along the dilapidated sidewalk. A site which my tiny apartment affords a perfect view.

Please excuse the scribbling arithmetic on the back of this note. The numbers had me curious. Three people a day, six hundred residents. That means if I’m doing my math right even on the happiest of occasions any resident here has a modest life expectancy of two hundred days. I, myself have been a resident for over five years now making me a witness to well over five thousand of the macabre parades four stories below my living room window.

As I exited my apartment this morning to pour over the ancient tomes the home provides for its fluctuating population on the ground floor, I found myself mortified in disbelief. The long hallway that provides passage to the elevator and stairs was yellowed, wallpaper withered and curling off the walls. What few forlorn lights were left hummed and flickered like angry hornets. On the ground lay heinous piles of refuse, blackened with age, leaving only enough space down the center of the passageway to allow me to slip through with only a marginal amount of the decayed matter attaching itself to the hem of my long wool coat.

As a writer, I must admit that I have dreamed up some horrific events to place my readers in, but I was wholly unprepared for what awaited me at the end of the hallway. Slackjawed, I approached the open elevator shaft, in the unfathomable depths of the pit I could make out the wretched bodies of the elderly mangled with their walking implements. Powered wheelchairs and metal walkers crushed and skewered the broken corpses below. Dear God… I can only hope they were all dead. I must admit that at that moment I heard l’appel du vide, the call of the void, beckoning me to join them in that rancor tomb.

Wild-eyed and desperate to escape I ran for the stairwell, or at least in as much as my sixty-eight-year-old body would allow. The large metal door fell off its hinges as I tried to pull it open. I found myself fortunate that I was not crushed by such an unexpected event for an injury like that at my age would surely mean a quick death.

No lights touched the inside of the stairwell, and I found myself reaching for my phone. The camera light would provide the minimal radiance needed to descend the emergency stairs and escape the abysmal surroundings I so unwillingly endured. My hands quaked uncontrollably with abhorrence as I fumbled around my purse and finally, illuminated the situation before me.

Mounds of filth that could have only been accumulated after decades of decay blocked the way down. At the time, I couldn’t understand what I was seeing, but now I can see the unmistakable gibbous mass burnt into my mind. Bodies, some rotten and swollen, others long since devoured by maggots, were the foundation upon which hundreds if not thousands of adult diapers and rotten food were piled.

I did the only thing I could think to do: run back to my apartment and wait out this nightmare. Mr. Snuggle Butt, my cat, awaited me inside my door expectantly. Cats seem to have an understanding of this world that was ancient and wise even when mankind was learning to walk upright. Their eyes hold the answers to the riddles of the long-dead Sphinx. Even now, as I sit here, four — maybe five days — of food in my kitchenette, struggling to understand what is happening around me, Mr. Snuggles looks at me with god-like insight.


That is why I paint his eyes his brilliant eyes, overflowing with the archaic knowledge of the ancient ones. They reveal to me nothing, but I know the answers are there somewhere within the nebulous twinkling azure color and the razor-thin verticle slit of infinite blackness. Mr. Snuggles knows what is happening.

I have been painting his eyes for months now. At first, one or two attempts to capture them on canvas a week. I hung them on the walls in my apartment so I could study them, how close I got, and how far away from understanding I was. Soon, there were no more spaces left so I started painting directly on my furniture, bedding, even the floor. But his grasp of the universe still alluded me, he sat mocking my feeble autodidactic attempts!

Yesterday, the property manager for the Congregationalist Senior Living Home came by for the annual inspection. She seemed horrified by my work. I had no choice. She was going to throw us out. Mr. Snuggles and I have nowhere else to go… so I killed her with my cast iron skillet!

Soon after, Mr. Snuggles talked to me, a language without words, and I listened. I painted his eye, his beautiful perceptive cat eye on the ceiling, the whole ceiling — in her blood. Not to worry, I’ve sprayed her down with enough perfume to cover the smell. Soon, I will fix coffee for both of us as the manager sits so fancy on my couch.
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Post February 21, 2019, 06:09:47 AM

Special Orders

Special Orders

By Iain Muir

I run a second-hand bookshop. You might think it’s not exciting or glamorous, but it has its moments. I stock all the usual stuff: the seventeen copies of “Fifty Shades”; dog-eared Ace paperbacks of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert Howard; even more dog-eared copies of Jilly Cooper and Anne Rice… you know the stuff. The shop’s in one of the less-fashionable streets of town, you know, two or three streets off the main strip. The sort of place you stumble across, unless you know it’s there, and have difficulty finding again. Moved? No, we’ve always been here. The other side of the road? Nah, you must be thinking of somewhere else.

Apart from the wanderers and the curious, I have a more, shall we say, ‘specialised’ clientele. The guys looking for the back room, the first editions, things I may have picked up in an estate sale. And then there are the others. Scrolls in Aramaic? A signed first edition of ‘Justine’? The unpublished first Hardy Boys novel? I might be able to help. I know a guy.

Which brings me to a warm evening in April. I was looking at the last few walk-ins browsing the stacks, just contemplating doing my Bernard Black impersonation and throwing them all out, when the bell over the door jingled. That takes some doing, since it doesn’t have a clapper.

I’d have said that they were Maori or Tongan – islanders anyway, except their eyes looked more Asian. If the Asians had been drawn by Ronald Searle, or Charles Addams, heavily lidded, and oddly prominent. Think the mutant offspring of Peter Lorre and Marty Feldman. There were two of them: a shorter fellow, in a dark coat and scarf, who took off a bowler hat as he walked in. His companion was massive, close on seven feet tall and five feet wide, with the square build and massive biceps you expect in an islander. An elaborate tattoo crept up from the collar of his greatcoat and curled around his right ear to invade the blank canvas of his face, telling the tale of his Whanau, who he’d fought, and who he’d eaten. It was a masterwork. Both were bundled up for a midwinter’s day. It was 35 degrees Celsius outside.

They glided across the floor to the counter, and the shorter one attempted a smile. His sharpened, shark-like teeth made it less ingratiating than menacing. His voice, when he spoke, was sibilant and lisping.
“Good evening, Sir,” he lisped, “We were looking for Mister Stardust.”

I allowed that I answered to that name (blame my parents, the sixties, and LSD).

“We were told that you were a man to whom we should speak if we were looking for something… unusual.”

“How unusual?” I asked (Master of the snappy comeback!)

“We seek a copy of the Kitab al-Azif. In the original Arabic.” His smile grew more oleaginous.

I raised an eyebrow. “In Arabic?” I asked. “I know of two copies in Greek, in University libraries. I can find you a copy of Wormius’ translation in Latin. I know a feller who swears he’s seen Dee’s translation in English, but the last copy in Arabic was said to be burned in Constantinople in about 950. Could be hard to find. Could be expensive.”

Shorty (let's call him Stan) didn’t even blink. Now that I mention it, neither of them had blinked since they came in. He snapped the fingers of one kid-gloved hand, and his immense minder opened the briefcase he was carrying and placed a tiara on the counter. It was gold, and encrusted with emeralds, and subtly the wrong shape to sit comfortably on a human head. He followed it with two golden armlets (slightly too long) and a torc. They were exquisitely formed, and ever-so-slightly sickening to look at. I made them disappear behind the counter.

“That should do for a down payment, Mr Smith,” I said. I do a lot of business with gentlemen named Smith. They’ve paid me in dollars, pounds, rupees, and coins with the heads of emperors of whom I’ve never heard on them. Numismatists love me. “How do I contact you?”

“We’ll call back,” he said. “In about a week? We need the book before the end of next month, you understand?”

I nodded understanding, and in unison they turned and glided out of the shop. I herded the browsers out and went into the back. I had some people to call up.

* * *

The next Wednesday the bell rang at about 4.30 in the afternoon. I looked up from the copy of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide I was reading to see Stan and Ollie shuffling in again, still wrapped up for a blizzard with scarves around their necks. I nodded towards the back of the shop, and they did the least convincing wander through the shelves I’ve ever seen. I turned the key in the front door and flipped the sign over.

I hurried through the stacks, to the small door at the back. Pulling the key from my hip pocket, I unlocked the door. As I placed my hand on the door knob, Stan put a gloved hand on my wrist.

“You have it?” he hissed

I nodded. “It took some doing,” I said. “And there’s a payment yet to be made.”

He hissed, and flapped his other arm at Ollie. Wordlessly, the big man handed me a bulging briefcase. I smiled, and opened the door, ushering them into the back room. Eagerly, they pushed past. I smiled as I closed the door behind them and turned the key. The screaming started shortly thereafter. I’m afraid they quite misunderstood when I said there was a price to be paid.
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Post February 22, 2019, 06:25:15 AM

Re: February 2019 Challenge - The Tales of Cosmic Horror

My vote is in... :)
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Post February 22, 2019, 10:43:01 PM

Re: February 2019 Challenge - The Tales of Cosmic Horror

My vote is in as well!
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
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Post February 24, 2019, 12:41:25 AM

Re: February 2019 Challenge - The Tales of Cosmic Horror

Mine too.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

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Post February 25, 2019, 10:42:56 AM

Re: February 2019 Challenge - The Tales of Cosmic Horror

Got mine in!
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