What was I thinking?

Today is August 20th. It happens to be HP Lovecraft’s birthday and a mere three days after my own which seems to be a good enough time to bring this blog back to life – or rather wake it up from its long slumber, if you prefer.
 
I recently self published my first novella the Monitor as an eBook on Amazon and since this story actually started as an homage to Lovecraft it seems to me that the stars have aligned and it is a fitting topic for the rebirth of this blog. 
 
 To begin with, I have a confession to make. I used to hate Lovecraft. I couldn’t stand reading him, it was all “blah blah blah, ah! It is terrible but I can’t describe it”. Granted, this was in high school, and I think I first learned about Cthulhu and the other great old ones in the original Dungeons and Dragons Deities and Demigods. Just as a quick aside, it certainly says something that the spell check on the macbook I am writing this post on is informing me that Lovecraft is misspelled but Cthulhu is just fine. It wasn’t that the words were long or bizarre – I have always been quick with a dictionary to look things up and never felt bad not knowing a word (thanks Mom). No, it was that his stories were, well, boring.
 
Anyway, I remember that even though his stories tended to be extremely short, I had difficulty wading through them and the ones I did were always a let down. I moved on from there to lighter reading (probably something of Tolkein’s though it might have been King) and likely wouldn’t have given him a second thought were it not for the Evil Dead. If you are reading this blog, you are likely familiar with that movie so I am not going to go into how awesomely terrible and terribly awesome it is (I am referring to the original 2 here, by the way).
 
I returned to Lovecraft with a vengeance and this time around it was… ok. Still not great, though I was starting to get a greater appreciation for the cosmology underneath it all and, far more importantly, the concept of taking a normal person and putting them face to face with something that was incomprehensible. It wasn’t that he couldn’t describe in (excruciatingly painstaking and verbose) detail these supernatural encounters, it was that the characters themselves were facing things so beyond their ability to relate that there was literally (apparently I can use this word incorrectly now and it is okay) no frame of reference they could draw upon in order to relate this experience.
 
So, let’s flash forward several more years. My life has just entered a new epoch. 1 of 3 has been born now with all of the attendant madness that brings. I recall laying there in bed with the baby monitor on and just staring at the red light. Every now and again the baby would flop around and the eye would blink at me and I could hear a soft rustling. For some reason I started to recall “The Statement of Randolph Carter” and the way Lovecraft told that story from basically the point of view of a guy on the phone when the other guy was getting all the action. My daughter also used to whisper and mutter as she was learning to talk and it was kind of creepy to just hear nonsense syllables coming through the monitor. It seemed to be a good enough time to revisit HP and see if I liked him any better. I did. A bit. 
 
At around this time I was starting to get back into an old hobby of mine that had been long neglected – writing prose. At this time I was living in Los Angeles and doing a bit of screenwriting because, well, it’s LA. Screenwriting is a very tight form and I will probably write more on that another time, but because of that I found I was really missing the free flowing and rambling and exploration that is prose. I decided to get back into it as I could with what little free time a new father has by acting on this inspiration and writing about the thing which inspired me and trying it in a style similar to Lovecraft. Thankfully, I edited quite a bit of the blah blah blah out and kept the kernel of what I liked best about his work. At least I am hopeful that came across. There are still quite a few little nods to Lovecraft – one of which is the protagonist deceased son’s name (Phillip). If you caught any others, either stylistically or content, feel free to share them with me either on twitter @somnicide or here on the blog.
 
Thanks for spending some time with me.
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Serial part 1

Sorry it’s not Wednesday – going forward look for new bits added on Wednesdays.  The in-laws were in town so I didn’t get much time to write.  I am going with a bit of cyberpunk influence as suggested by Eddie.  I need a title, so if you have anything clever let me know.

——————-

They said after the Pak-Ind Exchange that the region would glow for a thousand years. In reality the fires burned and mostly died out and the Freeholds rose from the ashes as pretenders to an ancient legacy of greatness. The other nations of the world do their best to ignore the princes, pretenders, maharajas and maharanis who claim dominion. No one goes there if they have a choice which explains why Stuss found himself in Lamayuru.It was said that a demon lived in the lake of Lamayuru and a monastery was built there after the lake was drained and the demon vanquished. During the Exchange the valley was fairly well protected from the blasts by the surrounding mountains. Of course, the ash fell for weeks after, poisoning most of the fruit trees which once dotted the region. There was a single apple tree which seemed to thrive on the ash. The apples grew red and fat and it was said that a single apple would make the eater immune to the ravages of radiation.

Stuss’s current employer was that magical combination of rich and foolish.  He wanted a bushel of the apples.

“This is such a bullshit job” Stuss mumbled to himself.  At least he didn’t have too much to worry about from the radiation.  As long as there were no immediate EMPs the background radiation wouldn’t affect him.  The poor bastard he was imping couldn’t say the same.

His guide, a scarred Sikh named Jasbir, turned to look him. He said something in Punjabi and it took Stuss a second to access the the language and realize Jasbir was calling a break.  The monastery was still a couple of hours away.  He hoped Jasbir wouldn’t notice the pause.  The monastery was a holy place, forbidden to outsiders.

Stuss answered back “sure, this place is as good as any”.  He avoided looking at Jasbir as he spoke.  The guide was in his mid 20s with a thick black beard that had been twisted and greased flat.  His turban was a deep blue but the white dust of the road made it look more like denim.  He also had a huge weeping sore where there should have been a nose and every time Stuss looked at him all he could see was that cancerous wound.

Jasbir just stopped the Jeep in the middle of the road.  It had been hours since they had seen any other traffic – or life of any sort.

Stuss got out and stretched his arms.  The motion caught his eye and he looked at his arms.  They were skinny and dark brown and covered with tiny sores from the radiation.  He felt a bit nauseous at the sight and panicked for a moment that the imped wouldn’t survive the journey.  Which meant Stuss wouldn’t survive.  He couldn’t help but remember watching Houke die.

Houke had been the best of them throughout the entire process.  Stuss remembered that 3 am wake-up call when he was taken out of his MI unit and told of his selection for a new assignment effective immediately.

“Outside now, Stuss.  Your shit will follow you.”

Stuss was still groggy with sleep but he could tell that the sergeant wasn’t happy.

He was standing there, shivering in his underwear when the black civilian car pulled up.  The whole situation was surreal.  Stuss climbed into the back of the car, his thighs squeaking against the leather.  The driver didn’t turn around and when Stuss tried to ask a question he just turned up the China-pop to earsplitting levels.

He knew now that the whole situation was the final test – to find out how well he could handle being thrown into a completely bizarre situation and get his bearings.  He was quick enough to end up in the Cortical Suppression and Impression program.  When he was dropped off outside of the drab grey building which was to be his home for the next year he saw nearly a hundred other CorSup hopefuls.  It was surrounded with tall fences and signs warning of the authorization of deadly force.  There was a single four part gate that looked more like one of the locks of a canal and two armed and indifferent guards.

Most of the hopefuls had gathered together into small groups.   Houke was sitting on the curb by himself smoking one of those bitter herb cigs he somehow always had.  He was in his underwear, same as almost everyone, but he didn’t seem the least bit curious or out of sorts.  He may as well have been sitting in his room for all it bothered him.

Stuss watched him nurse the cig for a while before walking over to him.

“No, I don’t have another so don’t even ask” his voice was lighter than the words he was saying.

Stuss sat down next to him.  “What do you think this is about?”

“Don’t know, don’t care.  Yesterday I could throw a rock and hit the Caliphate, assuming I was dumb enough to leave cover.  You can bet your ass I am a whole lot more happy today.”

That was the only time Stuss ever heard Houke talk about his life before CorSup.

They sat in silence until a harsh buzzing from the gates drew their attention.  A man in a black suit was leaving the compound flanked by uniformed guards.

“You will form into two groups.  Females on my left, males on my right.”  The man’s voice was soft but clear.

“Where are we?” one of the hopefuls asked.

“You are dismissed from the program.”  The man in the black motioned and one of the guards split off and hit the speaker with the butt of his weapon, knocking him to the ground.  He followed up with another brutal stroke the back of his head.  He collapsed in a heap.  Stuss hoped he was just unconscious but with hindsight he knew that he were they would have put a bullet in his brain after the hopefuls were filed into the compound.  In those early days, at least, they still pretended the program was voluntary.

The Redemption of Ossie Thid (reprint)

Part of my get organized kick has seen my going through my documents looking for stuff to revise and delete.  I came across this piece and really enjoyed reading it again.  I might have to expand this into a more traditional style story – right now it is pseudo diary style.

I know that some of you have read it, but it was probably a long time ago.  I hope you enjoy the rereading as much as I have.

This is a story set on a “hive world” in the Warhammer 40,000 universe though I like to think that, at least for this story, the setting is largely irrelevant.  Basically that universe is a grimdark (one word) place ruled by a nightmarish theocracy in worship of “The Emperor” in the most brutal regime imaginable.  And those are the good guys.  A hive world is a city that has been built upon over thousands of years and is typically governed by mega-corporations.  Go to http://www.blacklibrary.com to learn more about his awesome universe.

The Redemptionists Crusade is a particularly fanatical sect of the Cult of the Emperor.

So, without further ado, please enjoy this “reprint” of an old story I wrote.

——————————————————————

 

40k Saint burning heretics

Burn the heretic!

 

“The Redemption of Ossie Thid”

Excerpts from the private journal of Ocenote Thid.

5.

Things is going good for old Ossie if I say so myself. I met a girl at the manufactorum dance. She’s called Magidale and she’s as pretty as a new credit. The foreman said I do good work.

9.

Maggie and me went uphive today. It was nice up there but Maggie made me get a shave. I bought a new hat for Maggie. She sure does like her hats.

11.

I was walking home today after another double-shift. I am tuckered but I need the creds. Maggie wants to go uphive again next day off. I saw a guy standing on a corner preaching. He had on a mask but I could see his eyes. Reminded me of a crazy shitrat that used to live at my ma’s hab. I crossed to the other side so I wouldn’t get too close.

16.

More double-shifts. It’s been a long week and I ain’t been able to write much. Some people was throwing stuff at that preacher man but he kept on preaching like he was in the Crystal Cathedral. I was too tired to cross the street but I didn’t throw nuthing at him.

19.

Maggie and me went uphive again. I bought her a new hat. This one had synth-stones and a bunch of silkstuff and lace. The lace was real.  It was real expensive too. As I was paying all I could think was that it took 4 double-shifts to pay for it and how I was real tired. Maggie was happy though and gave me a bounce when we got back to my hab and that was real nice. I ain’t gonna say more about it cause I am a gentleman. Her body was real nice though. She didn’t have too many scars and she was real clean. I guess that is why she always smells so good.

20.

Preacherman was there again today. There was some people standing around listening to him. He was yelling about fornication and looked right at me like he knew. I just smiled and walked on by. I even tossed a cred in his box. He should use it to buy a fungirl. Maybe he wouldn’t be so crazy if he got a bit of bounce.

24.

More double-shifts. The foreman got hurt today on the line. The press caught his arm and ripped it right off. There was a lot of blood and they had to stop the line for an hour while the cleanup crew cleaned up. They docked the whole floor’s pay.

25.

Preacherman looked at me when I walked past. He stopped yelling but he still had spit on the bottom of his mask. I think he wanted me to give him another cred like the other day. I didn’t and he started yelling again. I’m working a split-double so gotta go back soon. I’m meetin’ with the boss.

26.

I am the new foreman. The boss called me into his office after the split-double and says “Ossie, you been here a long time. You do good work. We’re making you foreman.” You can bet my arm won’t get ripped off. Maggie was so happy she gave me a bounce without me even having to buy her a new hat. It’s more creds being foreman but more work too.

30.

The manufactorum was sold today. Everyone is worried about their jobs but the new bosses said that they are leaving the “inferastructure” or something like that and that means we are gonna keep our jobs. Preacherman was carrying on about some kinda judgment from the Emperor that was coming soon. Maybe I oughtta make Maggie my wife so it’ll be okay to fornicate.

31.

All shifts were cut in half today while the new bosses looked at the manufactorum. I guess they didn’t want anyone to ask them questions so they just sent us all home. Maggie and me decided to go uphive. I bought her a new hat. I asked her to marry me and she said yes. We had a bounce.

32.

I got to work this morning and there was a thick chain over the doors and a sign that said “Go home”. They ain’t never closed for a whole day before. We are going to fall behind in our production. There was a bunch of people around Preacherman. He was getting into it and his box was almost full. I tossed a cred in myself. Hopefully everything’ll be okay with my job.

35.

The chains are still there. Me and a couple of the guys went to the bar and I had to buy the drinks cause I am the foreman. I ain’t seen Maggie in a couple of days. She says she is getting ready for the wedding. I drank too much and spent too many creds. The manufactorum better open soon.

39.

The manufactorum opened today. I went in and everything is different. There are new machines. Now we are making textiles. I only know how to press plasteel. They said don’t worry though because all the workers are getting trained tomorrow. Preacherman was on his corner again but now that the manufactorum opened again there weren’t many people listening. This made him mad. He said that too many folk only look for the Emperor when things is bad. I was gonna give him a cred but I am flat until payday.

40.

I went to work today and they canned me because I didn’t know anything about textiles. I said they said they was gonna train us.  They said they was gonna train the workers but since I am a foreman I needed to know about them. I said I’d take my old job back on the floor but they said no. Maggie didn’t answer her door when I went by there.

50.

I can’t find a job. I even started looking a little downhive. I sold some things to buy some food. I had a few creds left over and bought Maggie a nice hat downhive but she still didn’t answer her door so I left it there.

53.

The hablords found out that I ain’t got work and they threw me out. They said that this hab’s for workers only. Preacherman was preaching again and since I didn’t have nuthing else to do I listened to him for a while. He said that the Judgement Day is coming. You can tell by how he says it that it should have a big J and a big D. He said fornicators are going to get it bad. As are mutants and witches.  Maybe my Judgement Day done came and went. I found a flophab to stay at for a couple of days.

54.

The Emperor is always watching. That’s what Preacherman said today. I was so mad that I flipped the sign into the sky so He could watch that. Preacherman stopped talking when I did that. He just stared at me until I left. I don’t need him or the Emperor anyway.

60.

Someone broke into my flop while I was looking for work. They took everything. Even my clothes. I have the few creds that were in my pockets and the clothes on my back. I ain’t seen Preacherman for a few days. I wonder where he went.

62.

I spent the last creds I had on the flop but it wasn’t enough.  They made me pay for the locks that those robbers broke. Like it was my fault all my stuff got stole. Preacherman was back. I listened to him for a while and he was talking about how the bad people had taken over this hive and at Judgement Day only the righteous would be lifted up while the hive burned and the sinners burned. That would be nice to see.

63.

I was real hungry today. I spent a couple of hours watching Preacherman. A lot of what he says makes sense. He said that the hard workers can’t get jobs because they want an honest pay but the uphivers that own the company’s don’t wanna pay good money when they can get mutants and unbelievers to do it for less money. That makes more profits. It’s the economics of corruption he said. I asked a couple of questions and he said that I looked to be healthy and pure.  He made me take off my shirt and looked closely at my skin. He said corruption always leaves its mark and it’s the duty of the righteous to keep up the guard. I reminded him that I gave him a couple of creds a while back and could I maybe get some of them back on account of being righteous and all and cause I was so hungry. I thought he’d be mad but he just reached into the box and gave me a couple.

64.

Preacherman was back on his favorite sermon. Fornicating. I started thinking about it and that was when all my troubles started.  That damn harlot Maggie did this to me. Were it not for her feminine wiles I’d still have me a job at the manufactorum. I didn’t want to be a foreman anyway, she said that I should be on account of how hard I work. After he was done I went over to him and before I said a word he just reached into his box and got out enough to buy me lunch. He said that he was hungry too and do I want to get some food together.

It was strange to see that he had to eat too. I guess I never really thought of him as a person. He didn’t take his mask off though, even when we ate.

I told him everything. I told him about the manufactorum and Maggie and the hats. And the fornicating. I told him every detail so that maybe he could pray to the Emperor for me to lift my burden of sin and help me get a job. He licked his lips when I talked about the fornicating and I thought he was going to leave me but he didn’t. He asked more questions about Maggie and her body.

He wondered if she had the marks of corruption. I said I didn’t think so but then he said how would I know the marks if I saw them? My eyes were closed to sin back then. He said he’d have to see her for himself. Tomorrow we are going to Maggie’s hab after her shift to inspect her.

65.

Preacherman gave me a mask of my own. It is made of leather and has an opening for the mouth, like his. He said that we had to cover our faces from sin so that it couldn’t find us when it came a-calling.

We went to her hab earlier than I thought we would. I said that she wouldn’t be there because she was working and he said he wanted to check it out first to make sure that we weren’t entering the den of our enemies unprepared. The hablord let Preacherman in without a word and said that he was happy to do his part for crusade. He also gave both me and the preacher a couple of creds to help with our good work.

It made me feel good when he said our. It was almost like I was a preacher too. And Preacherman, he didn’t say nuthing about it.

Anyways, her apartment was nice and clean like it always was and it smelt like her. I felt bad for being there but Preacherman told me that it always hurt to cut out a cancerous tumor but it had to be done to save the body. He’s always talking about stuff like that so I think maybe he was a doctor before he was redeemed. Anyways, it still makes me sweat to think about it.

Sorry I keep wandering around writing today. My hands ain’t even stopped shaking. I found all of the hats that I had given her. They were in boxes in a closet along with about a hundred more I didn’t give her.  I got so mad thinking that each of those hats was probably another fellow that she fornicated.

Preacherman said that she was like the Whore of Abylonica whose licentiousness led to the Abylonican Schism as told by St. Martus the Chaste. Preacherman told me that and I like the word licentiousness. It sounds a whole lot more uphive. So I took all the hats and laid them out on the floor of her bedroom.

I was so mad that I didn’t even want to leave and come back so we hid. When Maggie came home Preacherman closed the door behind her and I dragged her into the bedroom.

That house of sin, carpeted with the hats.

I don’t want to write what happened next because I am still a gentleman and I think I still loved her even though she was corrupted (Preacherman found the marks). He said that she could be purified with fire so her soul could join the Emperor in the afterlife.

I wanted that very much. Maybe she could love me in the afterlife and we could be together. I think that the Emperor has been watching what she was doing because all of those hats burned up fast and hot. Even Preacherman was surprised at how quickly they caught fire.

She screamed for longer than I woulda thought a person could.

Anyways, originally this was gonna be the last entry in this journal since when you are redeemed you are a new person and should have new thoughts but Preacherman said I should keep it because lots of the Saints kept journals documenting their good deeds. He said that I may even be a saint someday now that I have been redeemed.