Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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A Very Natural Thing

by Gary William Crawford

The phantom poet lay in the university hospital of Oona.
He’d achieved some success in the phantom world, but years of
drinking the nectar of illusion had suppressed his gifts, and he found
it more difficult to place his work.

He was depressed and cynical about the literature of the day, which he
regarded as banal and irrelevant. He knew his work was good, but he
found the editors’ level of quality and intelligence lacking.

He was near death, and he resigned himself to it and had no faith in an
afterlife, which was the law of the land. He had always prided himself
in his difference, and he didn’t want to sacrifice his
beliefs and his poetry by entering into the cold, insensitive art of
his fellow phantoms. But he was unaware of the storm coming: it turned
the green sky blood red and made the vegetation black and poisonous.

While the storm was most severe, I visited him in his hospital room,
and he begged me to give him an overdose of the nectar of illusion.
Secretly knowing that he was right about the literary landscape, I gave
it to him. He swallowed it long and deeply, and in a moment the
computers of the phantom world crashed, and he wasn’t even a

© 2006 Gary William Crawford

Gary William Crawford is the author of three books of poetry, Poems of the Divided Self, In Shadow Lands, and The Shadow City, and the short story collection Gothic Fevers. He has published works of literary scholarship and criticism, such as Ramsey Campbell, J. Sheridan Le Fanu: A Bio-Bibliography, and Robert Aickman: An Introduction. He is also the founder and editor of Gothic Press (http://www.gothicpress.com/).

Find more by Gary William Crawford in the Author Index.

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