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About R’lyeh: Those Things I Will Tell Your Child

December 31, 2014

about cove-smlr

About R’lyeh: Those Things I Will Tell Your Child

Matthew Sawyer

I was telling my second-generation niece, Rilynn there in pink pajamas, that her name sounds like R’lyeh. She is only five. “No,” she tells me back. The child lives with her parents in the country not very far from where I was born.

Rilynn explains to me, “They don’t rhyme.”

I tell her something incomprehensible; something even a smart little girl her age would not yet understand. I say, “The consonants don’t have to rhyme. The words just have to sound the same.”

“Nuh-ahh,” she replies and in that moment, I conclude she must know what I am talking about, or she has a solid idea.

“I’ll tell you a rhyme about the sunken city of R’lyeh.”

“What?” Rilynn peeps and jumps up from the Living Room floor. The little blond thing pops onto her bare feet like she does forty times forty times a day, She joins me opposite a laminated coffee table small enough that the girl might rest her elbows on stacked magazines atop the surface. She does not relax and instead regularly shifts her inconsequential weight between her feet.

Late on my cue, I recite, “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.”

Rilynn’s mother yells at me. “Matt!”

And Rilynn admits, “That rhymes.”

“It’s a poem,” I beg the mother. The woman’s name is Brenda – for the purpose of my narrative. I admit I have de-purposed the names of other relatives for the sake of that same said narrative. So, there is my first confession.

I cite for Brenda, “HP Lovecraft wrote that in his short story Call of Cthulhu.”

“One of those old stories?” she wonders knowingly.

“A great old one,” I say. “It’s like a hundred years old.”

Rilynn interrupts us when she demands from both the only adults in the room, “I want to hear the story.”

Her father is at work, delivering packages, and the girl is an Only-child. Her mother, Brenda again, hovers on the threshold between this room and another. The grown woman frowns at me. She issues a warning. “I have heard about you.”

“Probably from my sister-in-law,” is my answer. “She is a religious nut.”

Brenda admits, “Holly does now wear the Shield of David and a Cross around her neck.”

While I nod she explains, “But she lives there in Wister Town with your brothers and sisters… and your mother… and you can go back to your home in California. Don’t cause trouble.”

“I am an old man.”

Brenda denies my factual report.  “You look twenty-five.”

My automatic response lists, “Exercise, eat right…”

“You look younger than me.”

“It’s what you read,” I then support.

Rilynn stomps her naked soles and whines. “I want to hear a story!”

“Okay,” her mother condones. “Your Uncle Matt can tell you one.”

“About R’lyeh?” I inquire from Brenda while simultaneously her daughter claps.

Brenda states, “Nothing about death or monsters or anything gross.”

I stammer, “Well…”

The woman stops me. “There was an earthquake the last time you were there in Wister Town – an earthquake in south-central Wisconsin. And you said a house walked away – monsters came out of the hole it made.”

“It was a story…”

“It makes no difference, bad things happen when you tell bad stories.”

“Bad?” I do wonder aloud. Despite what critics will say, I withhold judgment on myself for that judgment would end me and my very life. And hypocritical with my skepticism, I tell Brenda, “There is no difference between religion and being superstitious.”

“The earthquake started fires that burned down half of Wister Town!”

“I never talked about that,” I counter.

“Small blessing,” Brenda supposes above her breath.

“I’ll tell you what,” I proposition, “I’ll clean it up. And I’ll try not to be creepy or scary.”

“All right.”

Grinning at Rilynn I paraphrase, “Sunk somewhere in the South Pacific ocean, a corpse-city called R’lyeh…”

“Matt,” screeches her mother.

“It’s in the story, I didn’t write it,” I present for my defense.

“It’s the same difference.” Brenda states once more, “No dead things or death.”

“Okay, that was only an adjective. It was about a city but no more. That’s the last one and I can tell Rilynn about R’lyeh.”

“Yes,” the small girl screams and she claps her hands together again and harder.

I grumble loud enough for Brenda to overhear. “It won’t be exciting.”

“Just make it fun,” she answers me. “Keep her attention for an hour or so.”

Observing Rilynn squirm while she stands on her feet, I tell the girl’s mother, “I’ll last for a couple minutes.”

Brenda nods and vanishes beyond the doorway. Rilynn leans completely over the table, lifting her legs off the floor, and she whispers nearer my ear. “Are you gonna talk about dead things?”

“No,” I chuckle. “I’m going to tell you who lives in R’lyeh – the city beneath the ocean. Cthulhu cannot die.”

“Catsup!” Rilynn announces and leaves me disorientated. I swim with my thoughts atop the ruins of an undersea R’lyeh. Yet the city itself is not ruined and appears as it had newly built eons ago. Erected in my imagination, the immense construction merely threatens to topple.

Finally able to comprehend my niece, I try correcting the young child. “Cthulhu. Ka-thoo-loo.”

“Ka-choo,” answers Rilynn. “Ka-choo-choo.”

“Ka,” I started to say again then decided my effort was futile. I play with the girl. “Ka-choo,” I repeat with an exaggerated exhalation. I wipe an imaginary expulsion from beneath my nose.

Rilynn laughs and she repeats the word until I believe she makes herself truly sneeze. She refuses to acknowledge the genuine rivulet that has run down and clung on her upper lip. “Does he come out?” my niece asks me. “Is R’lyeh like his house?”

The strange question makes me wonder if the girls has already heard the story. “Is R’lyeh like his house? As a matter of fact, it is. Ka-choo-choo is big, he’s huge.”

“Say it right,” Rilynn requests. “I can’t say it, but you can say his name right.”

“Cthulhu.”

“Yeah!”

“He can only come out when the stars are right,” I educate the impressionable mind. “The thing is, the stars will never be right.”

“Why,” Rilynn pouts. She looks sad for real.

“Well,” I say making preparations, “There is a difference between where the stars were when he came to our planet and where they are now.”

“Why?”

“Because space is expanding.”

“Why?”

The distress on Rilynn’s face reflects the frustration I experience as I try to explain impossible concepts to a five-year old brain. “Cthulhu was originally an extra-dimensional being. He was an Outer God until he was trapped on Earth and he became a Great Old One. They don’t really understand how our three dimensions work.”

“Why?”

“Because, where they come from, they can be anywhere at once, be everywhere. Their space doesn’t move.”

“Matt,” Brenda declares. “You’re confusing her. I’m confused.”

“I’m confused trying to explain it.”

“Make it simple,” the mother begs me. “Or else I will get questions I can’t answer.”

“Okay,” I consent. “Cthulhu can’t come out. Besides there are Elder signs everywhere.”

“Older signs?” Rilynn questions.

“Close: Elder signs, like the elderly. They grow in nature, you can see them in the tree branches, the veins in leaves and even the veins under your skin. HP Lovecraft drew a picture of it.”

“Can I see it?”

I hesitate. “It might be hard to find. Let me draw a picture for you. Do you have paper and something to draw with?”

Rilynn runs away laughing. The girl returns in an instance with a single clean sheet of typing paper and a handful of red and blue crayons. A green wax stick had fallen from her grasp whilst she had come but Rilynn never paused and retrieve it. She presents to me my requested tools.

“Draw Ka-too-loo,” she insists.

“Cthulhu?”

“Yeah.”

The request frightens me without explanation, so I stall. “I thought you wanted to see the Elder Sign.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

“Yeah, but draw Him first.”

“Oh,” I stutter. “You should never summon Cthulhu without an Elder Sign. What happens if he demands a sacrifice?”

“Matt?” Brenda inquires of me.

The woman startles me as if I have been caught speaking the unspeakable. I scuttle my argument against a juvenile and I decide what comes next. “Let me show you the Elder Sign. Then I will draw Cthulhu.”

Before Rilynn objects, I sketch together six broad hashes, making the red image of a branch. Three twigs project from its top, two from below. Rightward on the picture, two opposite twigs reflect each other as would a mirror. The second bottom twig appears sprout from the branch in the space between the two remaining leftward twigs on top.

“Humph,”Brenda says looking over my stooped and sketching upper half. She tells me, “It looks like something you would find in nature.”

“Who put it there?” Rilynn asks.

Dissuaded against trying to explain the Outer Gods again, I reply to the girl and her mother, “We’ll make your one aunt happy and say God put it there. And he looks just like Santa Claus.”

Unafraid now that I have constructed a ward for my protection, I intercept any awkward confusion and I say, “Here is what Cthulhu looks like.”

I have been to Art School and I have always been naturally drawn to doodling, so much I am more talented with a blunt pencil than any other drawing implement. Knowing so, my sketch immediately takes form. The representation of Cthulhu is a simple image of an octopus – one octopus with eight radial tentacles in place of the head of a primate. Although I do not provide any scale, this abomination is larger than King Kong.

I say primate because I have often seen paintings of the Great Old One in which He has a spine and four limbs besides a pair of colossal membranous wings. Those four jointed appendages always terminate with five clawed digits, these usually webbed. Rilynn reacts to my visual interpretation.

“Icky.”

“Matt?” Brenda cautions me. “I don’t want her awake tonight.”

“It’s okay, the Elder sign…”

“Stupid,” Rilynn states in verdict. Her mother shakes her head.

“It’s okay,” I presage again. “There is another Elder Sign. August Derleth made it – he was a cheese-eater, just like us. He was from Wisconsin – Sauk City.” Having revealed an alternative, I start drawing a second archaic symbol on the same one sheet of typing paper.

“You know,  August Derleth was the first guy who published HP Lovecraft. He wrote stories, too. He also wrote about a lot more than horror.”

“There,” I tell Rilynn and her mother. The second Elder Sign comes presented to them as a blue, five-pointed star. A red eye engulfed in red flames flickers at its center. “The star is actually supposed to be green, but Rilynn dropped that color on the floor.”

“Get it later, sweetie,” Brenda absently tells the girl.

I boast in tangent. “Now that would scare Klingons.”

“What are Klingings?” Rilynn asks me.

My outrage is a showy mockery. “Brenda, your daughter is eight years old and still no Star Trek?”

“She’s five.”

“But still…”

The mother ends the silence that follows my lacking an excuse. Brenda asks me a serious question. “How did you learn about this?”

“I don’t know,” I answer honestly at first. “Read?”

“You should write about it when you go home. Did you and why not?”

“It wasn’t in my stars,” I tell her in accordance to the mythos we discuss. Brenda does not understand. She probably won’t until I do write down something. I let the woman know, “There are tons of other authors who could tell you the stories. I’ve got something parallel, but it’s about what happens in Wister Town.”

“I know,” Brenda moans. Before the woman runs out of that same breath, she tells her daughter, “Put on warm clothes, we’re going to that toenail of a town… like Uncle Matt calls it. Let’s visit your great grandma.”

Once Rilynn is busy upstairs getting dressed, and Brenda and I are alone, I make a cordial appeal to the woman. “Brenda, my nephew would never allow it, your husband would forbid that you ever speak to me…”

The woman steps back from me but she does not flee. Snared by curiosity strengthened by her agnosticism – her disbelief in a Creator that she confessed against long before – Brenda listens to my corrupt words.

“You are right, I will be young until I die. I will die young at the age of one hundred and twenty-five. Rilynn can remain young, too, but she must know. The earlier, the better.”

“My daughter is not going to visit you in California,” she tells me. Knowing who I am and being closer to my family than I physically am or ever was, my in-law, Brenda, has heard all my other relatives have rejected my similar notions.

“What is in California?” she nibbles still. I expected she would ask before I had come two thousand miles to visit her family.

“The sun,” I say generically. “That’s where it stays, and its home was made for the Divine.  There is power in California – power for those who know how to tap it. There is more power there than in that hole in Wister Town.”

“The Jews sense it, and the Mormons. That’s why they are there. There are big cults and Moonies and Scientologists and Jehovah Witnesses – you name it. They crawl down from the palm trees. They all feel the secret power so few people can actually ever know.”

The woman I speak with gnaws her bottom lip. When she soon starts shaking her head, I promise, “Rilynn will know more than me. She will see the future. Maybe she will see R’lyeh.”

When my words cease to make impact, I escalate the strength available to the female child. “She will foresee every consequence of every action she takes. And she will know there is only one course through life. The sun is the root of all religion. Praise Hastur.”

Once I am shut out of the house, I warn Brenda, “Hastur has corrupted in the American Midwest – the power of the sun does not manifest in cows. All of that is Egyptian perversion. The providence here is made base and unhealthy! Defiled and there is no protection. There is no God. We still live blind in the Age of Babylon.”

– END –

Impressed by my writing? I hope so. Read more from me, as Matthew Sawyer or Mr. Binger, at Smashwords.

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He’s Not The Same Monster Anymore

September 23, 2014

Do you remember those very old horror films Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and House of Frankenstein (1944)? You may recall the same gimmick in The Monster Squad (1987). All these films star Universal Studio monsters. These creatures were transformed from their sources in literature and removed further from their mythological inspirations. Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker first altered their archetypes when these authors brought those same monsters into the Modern Ages.

Authors such as Stephen King and Anne Rice have been diligent and maintained the evolved fiction of these cryptids, but then there’s been Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. Whereas the story was hugely popular, the images of vampires and werewolves were gravely injured. Granted, comic books and television had already shook the genre ragged.

Yet I reawaken Frankenstein’s monster in my story The Abhorred. I’m taking vampires and werewolves back to their roots. I’m reassembling the fabled golem – no, Frankenstein’s monster is not a zombie. And with guidance from the dead author HP Lovecraft, I pitch all these creatures against each other. This fight is not a Battle Royale nor a game. This story is the paranoid life of a professor of nuclear engineering. Professor Hebert Stock is on sabbatical here in Northern Wisconsin. It’s Thanksgiving and the man is alone. At night, he scavenges graveyards.

– Mr. Binger

The Abhorred by Mr. Binger

The Abhorred
Genre Horror
Word Count Approx. 91,758
Page Count 611

Synopsis…

Professor Hebert Stock is a good man. This professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay truly believes he is a force for good. All alone, he considers himself a mortal god. His accomplishments support his delusions – Strock here has harnessed cold fusion. He has shrunken this miraculous engine under the size of a clay pot. Not only that, he has brought the dead back to life.

Professor Strock has revived whole specimens and their amputated constituent pieces. Raw energy revives and intoxicates each of the monstrosities the man has packed with batteries and sewn back together. Each nameless creation is a step toward immortality. Yet Strock’s discoveries are not primarily for himself. He helps mankind combat a scourge of vampires.

As much as Strock’s genius, vampires and werewolves are real. Unchanged by time, these monsters now flourish in the Mack State Wildlife Area – ever since a Hellmouth had opened the earth south of Madison. The Hellmouth itself rent the earth then walked away.

The vampires in The Abhorred are immaterial, blood-sucking ghosts. They become solid when they consume blood. The master of the horde in the Mack State Wildlife Area is a pudgy, Midwestern-looking fellow. His name is Vlad Blaski. This vampire has discovered semi-permeability. All vampires need do is boil the blood they drink.

Having decimated the prey inside the Wildlife Area, the hungry ghosts eat werewolves – hairy Wild Men of Eastern European folklore. They look closer to Lon Chaney’s Wolf Man than actually wolves or upright demons. And they do not transform under a full moon. The werewolves in the Abhorred are emaciated, wildly hirsute naked men cursed at puberty. How this curse is transmitted is an unimportant mystery.

Hunger drives werewolves unto Strock’s private property – a hobby farm between Appleton, WI and Greenville, WI. These trespassers discover the professor’s secret experiments. They meet his reanimated monster – a discolored, walking corpse that calls itself Angst. The reassembled boy bleeds motor oil. And a union is made. Professor Strock, his assistant Gloria, and Angst join forces with werewolves and they fight Blaski and his vampire horde.

Printed Pocket Books of The Abhorred is available from LULU.

The Abhorred Ebooks are sold online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etd… but I prefer readers purchase them from Smashwords.

I hope everyone finally likes this one…

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It’s Not a Revision

January 15, 2014

January 2014 has come and so have my latest self-published book editions. They’re not revisions, for the most part. Sure. I corrected instances of missing dialog punctuation but these fixes do not truly set the 2014 editions apart from those of the previous year. There are exceptions, but these are so minor that I let the refreshed publication date record their histories.

Take a look at my printed books at Lulu or my identical ebooks at Smashwords.

A big exception is Pazuzu – Manifestation, the first book in my Pazuzu Trilogy. I made clear alterations to its ‘Prelude’ and the first leg of chapter one, ‘The Wilderness’. And here they are…

 

Prelude

Rage makes the swollen hands of this ranked priest tremble. Captain Ioannu is the victim of extortion, that or lacking amphetamine makes him angry. He tugs a collarless white shirt and finally removes his heavy black uniform jacket. The UnChosen caste calls his choice drug ‘Ape’ – the street name for a new junk that typically changes users into anxious, howling gorillas.

Such base consequence could never happen to a priest, a born member of the upper echelon of the Chosen caste and an officer in the Church. The associated pomp and dignity granted the position guards against that uncivil lunacy. No, the unquiet phases of the chemically grown monkey would not drive Josiah Ioannu into madness. The Church had promoted this middle-aged priest to captain because his genetically endowed discipline gives him immaculate willpower. After all, Captain Josiah Ioannu had been born a Chosen. Even without a rank, birthright grants him authority over his Mortal God.

Nonetheless, his responsibilities crush Ioannu under stones. “The Church presses too much work on mid-grade priests. They drive me to use the damned drug.”

The wretched soul rationalizes, “I’m old.”

He also confesses to himself, “The problem with Ape isn’t the drug, but rather not having any. Nothing at all.”

Sobriety-sharpened nails press into his chest and head. Beneath his tormented rut, the priest tells himself, “Being clean banishes the blessing of knowing exactly what to do in any situation… and making sense of other people. Nobody listens to me when I don’t have Ape, they just babble and interrupt me when I talk.”

Sobriety truthfully compromises the man’s ability to control his god – the Mortal God and all those forsaken UnChosen dwelling inside his squalid quarter next the Wall.

Materially, he deals with an unprecedented crime inside the walled city of Khetam. Very recently, there on the sands of the Chosen’s Promised Land, Reverend Elmer had been murdered. The man was a subordinate priest Ioannu had assigned the parish custodianship of Saint Erasmus. He thinks aloud, “A sympathizer killed him.”

The Wall separating Khetam from the world of the Shur foremost protects the city from the ravages of heathen terrorists. “No full-blown heathen can get into this city,” Captain Ioannu mumbles. He righteously believes no one passes through the Wall without the approval of the Church or its military. He tells everyone, “The Chosen exercise exclusive entrance into Khetam.”

All UnChosen once permitted behind the Wall now live in desolate parishes like Saint Erasmus. Ioannu thinks, “A suitable batch of hovels for those spineless degenerates.” Still, the caste and status of the murdered victim raises the severity of the crime to an act of terrorism. The Church and its military’s censors had debated if news of the crime should be made public, but the single body never made a decision.

One thing Ioannu was certain – the presence of pagan tablets on the altar inside Saint Erasmus will never be reported to the public. The Church had immediately confiscated and destroyed the sacrilegious objects. Whatever the dead Reverend Elmer had once planned with them is better undiscovered. The blasphemous controversy goes with him into death. Withal, the late Reverend Elmer brought the awful fate upon himself.

In the midst of Ioannu’s coping with his withdrawal from Ape – that and the murder of a priest too curious about an archaic and forbidden religion – the phone in his office rings. The man on the other end of the telephone line calls him, “Sir.”

Reverend Benedict Gage calls, again. The Aper is a non-commissioned bastard from the city of Gomorrah. Captain Ioannu had just hung-up on the irreverent extortionist.

“Why do you keep calling here?” Ioannu shouts into the phone inside his dark and private office at the Church. He tells the caller “Stop calling me.”

“Captain – Ioannu.” Reverend Gage stutters with the aggravated squall of an addict. “I know you don’t know me from Adam, but you have something I want.”

“A demotion?” threatens Ioannu. “How, in the name of the Mortal God, can you even dare speak to me with such lack of respect?”

The two priests share an addiction to Ape, with a difference. Ape helps Reverend Gage lose respect for his superior officers, sending him out-of-the-way to a place like Gomorrah. The drug gives the non-commissioned priest arrogant hopes and ambitions – whereas Ioannu had already gladly achieved his own pinnacle.

Uncovering his hand, Gage says, “Listen, I know you’re related to Judah Ismael, the crime-lord in this city.”

Hopefully, despite the truth, this blackmailer didn’t know how complicated the relationship between Captain Ioannu and Judah Ismael had become. The captain is the crime-lord’s connection with the Church. Although, in-law Judah’s patience had grown thin with Josiah, resulting in Ape becoming difficult to find in Khetam and impossible to obtain. Like Ioannu, many of the priest’s brethren in the Church had stopped coming to their offices at headquarters. Those nervous wretches who report this morning are useless and hide in the dark behind locked doors.

“That is a sad coincidence,” Ioannu claims. He speaks of his relationship to the UnChosen crime-lord.

“I know you keep the military away from Gomorrah,” Gage states. “And I know Ismael is your Ape connection.”

“I know you are a dead man, Gage,” Ioannu shouts over the phone. “How dare you call me with your crazy accusations.”

“Listen.” Gage shouts back. “Military patrols will come to this city, whether you like it or not. Ilu Yehowah is here in Shur’s northwest. Colonel Onesiphorus himself is coming here.”

Colonel Onesiphorus’s trip to Gomorrah presents a bigger problem, one Ioannu should have anticipated – he knows the colonel sweeps through the region annually. Captain Ioannu reports to the colonel, as would Gage when the bishop arrives at Gomorrah. Gage, the tattling Aper, may tell their superior officer anything.

Ioannu capitulates. “What do you want?”

“An assignment away from Gomorrah and heathens,” Gage barters. “This city will fall to terrorists next, Yehowah is here.”

“Let me think,” Ioannu replies immediately. The solution comes to him with a staggered breath.

The situation seemed to work itself out – a custodian position has recently opened at Saint Erasmus and a priest materializes who will shut his mouth if he’s invited into Khetam. Josiah does not think when he offers the position to Gage, though this wretched extortionist may again one day twist Josiah’s neck. Nevertheless, the treacherous possibility fails to occur to him and does not stop Josiah from asking Gage a more crucial question. “Will you bring Ape into Khetam?”

“No, of course not,” Gage denies with a strained snort.

“Please, there’s none here. You won’t find Ape behind the Wall.”

Gage thinks he cannot trust Captain Ioannu with the truth. To his treacherous ear, his supervisor’s plea sounds like a trap. “No,” he squeaks.

“That’s unfortunate,” answers Ioannu before hanging up. Josiah had looked forward toward another batch of Ape for himself.

1

The Wilderness

This morning, the colors of the sky possess weight. At the faraway horizon, where a wide, blue bruise is caught between dark and light, the hues are luminous gases – layers of yellow, orange and pink pressed together by the nothingness of the previous night. The rising sun pushes warm colors upward, burning them away, and bleeds sore purple from the sky. A stumbling, shirtless man then falls into the morning.

He knows where he is, but the bare wraith cannot remember who he might be. Beneath caked dust, he appears overall red and covered with angry pustules. His torso resembles an antique table dusted by careless strokes. With each of his heavy steps, the dirt encrusted upon his chest and back drops off in flakes.

His own shoulders bear upon him with a foreign weight he wants to throw off. The extra fleshy padding around his waist only adds to his burden. The gain had crept upon the smoldering man with stealth, over years of denial and through moments of complacent acceptance. Growing fat once seemed a natural process of age. The extra weight had introduced itself as a hobo trespassing the rails, a sneaky hanger-on who refused to be shaken off. Overweight as he is, he feels he is Chosen.

The tired posture and swollen, blistered gut of the man make him a forlorn caricature. His arms swing with the weight of pendulums knocked from their paths. And this broiled devil lumbers across a desolate, alien world – the only living thing exiled and cast into Hell. Desperate thirst comes without warning.

He feels his insides bake and he imagines his already bulging belly will bloat until the skin bursts and all his juices bubble out. The very last of his fluids will evaporate even before dripping to the ground. Such is not the death the empty man desires. He will not die sizzling in his own fluids. Instead, he prefers drying-up. He wants to disintegrate, to become part of the dust – blood red dust.

A clear, familiar voice speaks into his left ear and sounds like his own. “You have certainly wandered enough.”

The disconnected specter speaks with finer clarity than the stumbler – absent of the muffled hesitation he struggles to overcome in ordinary conversation. This voice sounds rehearsed and confident, far from his own verbal fumbling. His voice, like a nasally monologue recorded on an answering machine, seems an amputation, separate from any concept he believes about himself; whatever that could be now.

The better voice resonates as if echoing inside an empty room. Just as abrupt, it vanishes and a second of stillness fills the void. Leaded footfalls on packed dirt and a muffled ring in the man’s head dispels the silence; much like listening to a radio station when an announcer misses his or her timing – until a burst of sound jolts the dead air. Yet the voice is not scratched with static heard on radios. Nothing disturbs its dismembered words. The voice and the man’s plod across the dry waste remain exclusive and opposite each other.

The wandering man does not bother looking around, because the sporadic company of the invisible voice is his only companion. It had joined him earlier that day, or mayhap the day before. Time passes as fleetingly as the voice. This moment, the sun has traveled only a quarter of its path across the sky when the waste becomes miserably hot and bright.

The suspended days and endless expanse of dirt disorient him. There is no, and there was never relief. The previous night had been sweltering, and the man had stumbled through the darkness, unsure when one day ended and another began. Yet he must walk and find his way or die.

From the road, the desert had never appeared so large. He would have easily spotted scant landmarks if he rode in a car or truck. Regardless, the man thinks he can recover his bearings. His sense of direction had always been amazing, or so he believed.

Though he could not recall why he found himself in the middle of nowhere, he suspects he had a destination when the dangerous trek began. The ‘when’ is now long ago, hidden beneath hours and unending dunes of sand. If he had brought any water, it was now gone. He did not know what supplies he had packed for this journey, and he now lacks a pack and even a shirt. All he apparently owns are a pair of scuffed laced boots and crusted khaki pants with empty pockets.

“Hey, wouldn’t a tall glass of cool water be great?”

The voice, barely noticeable beneath hot winds, teases like some subtle siren – hidden within whirlpools transformed into sand dunes. The thought of a gulp of water lights in the mind of the stumbling man, but he deliberately quashes it; none is to be found here and he will not torture himself. Entertaining pleasant fantasies seems more conducive to his survival.

The wanderer dreams he finds that siren and she takes the poor, baked fiend to her dune. They lay down and her bare skin is cool, like the ocean in which she was born. Her eyes, green as kelp, compete for admiration against lips that flirt and glisten with the sheen of pearls. Rescued and transformed, he tires of the colorless desert and travels back to her sea. He will never be thirsty again, and never care and recall how or why he discovered himself alone in the desert. Finding the bliss of love and the sea are the answers, and she is the reason for his journey.

Dehydration had afflicted him long time ago and stumbling on his feet was currently just a pretense; he was already lost and dead. Heat exhaustion was near, but still, the voice calls. It names him.

“Benedict.” This time the voice shuts out every thought. “Ben.”

Ben jerks leftward with such violence, he twists completely around, a marionette thrown into a clumsy pirouette by an amateur puppeteer. The momentum pulls him off his feet and he falls forward as if his strings are cut. His shoulders remain hunched while he lies face down in the sand.

With a huff and small cloud of dust, Ben flips himself over and sees the orange cauldron of the sun over his toes. He had stopped sweating, which is not a good sign, but he lacks any will to worry. His name will be forgotten, if ever really known. He recalls it now, because the voice had reminded him. His name is Ben.

Ben closes his eyes and pictures rippling waves drift upward from his body. He feels stuck to the ground, a part of it. This land might also be called Ben and he is merely a piece of desert, like the dust stirred by his steps. The particles will eventually settle back down and rejoin the suffering man; misplaced specks relocated from one part of the desert to another, but still part of the whole.

His breath becomes the hot breeze and he exhales a gust that singes the inside of his gaping mouth. When Ben opens his eyes, the sun hangs directly overhead as a white whirlpool in a smooth blue ocean. A mighty hand had polished away the waves and ripples; “Not God’s hand.” The Mortal God was gone. The voice told him, although the man already suspected.

“Ben, you’re wasting the day, dreaming.”

****

Read the whole story.

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Lazarus the Pig

December 7, 2013

 Matthew Sawyer's Pazuzu Trilogy

Children throughout the Shur desert, Chosen and UnChosen alike, attend mandatory lessons in the same classrooms. The Church does not discriminate. There is no segregation among these people. This Saturday afternoon, the plump supplemental school teacher tells eight year old boys and girls “Our two social classes are united against bloodthirsty heathens. You do remember who they are, right? superstitious animals who destroy our cities. Evil.”

Chosen and UnChosen children alike are educated about this singular threat to the oasis parishes in which they cower. Today, a full class in the unguarded city of Gomorrah learns from a Chosen teacher “A marked difference between the composition of Church parishes is simply geographical – a majority of Chosen people live inside walled cities such as our capitol, Khetam.”

She tells them “Descendants of UnChosen workman, those men who physically built the defensive barrier, are also permitted to live behind the protection of the Wall.”

Ms. Mendel worships. “Praise the Church and its wisdom. How else would we have water?”

Benedict Ishkott thinks over the question. Deeper, the boy contemplates the unclassified information Ms. Mendel has imparted.

“Hell with that,” he says to himself inside. As quietly, Ben whispers “I wish I was Chosen.”

Inflected with equivalent disdain, the boy asks his teacher aloud “Where do heathens get water?”

Ms. Mendel laughs. “Silly, they drink blood.”

Ben stutters “But…”

Before the kid recovers his sensibility, the plump teacher comments. “I’ll tell all you children something the Church doesn’t talk about anymore.”

“Is is illegal?” asks a little girl. Her name is Tamara.

Ms. Mendel says “No, this was before visual media was banned.”

“What?” the whole of the pubescent kids wonder together. The question feels as would an ocean wave all these children will never feel roll over even one.

Their teacher replies “Printed materials – book, magazines. Television and movies.”

The examples Ms. Mendel provide are as ephemeral as unseen seas. Any nostalgia reflected in the faces of these children is merely a pining recollection inherited from their parents. A whole generation has passed since the ban had been enacted.

Difficult still, Ben queries concerning the restrictions the Church levied upon communication – all that remains is radio broadcast military bulletins and Church doctrines. “Why?”

Ms. Mendel knows what the boy is curious about. “Images are subversive, Ben. And there was that discovery of background cosmic radiation. The Church will allow no avenue into the world. The Chosen will dictate when the Mortal God will be allowed to join his creation.”

“What were you gonna tell us about, Ms. Mendel?” demands a precocious little boy.

Ms. Mendel gives the kid respect he obviously lacks for his genetic superiors. Judah Ismael here is UnChosen, but his father has money. The Ismael family commands crime all throughout Gomorrah. This power makes each of them equivalent any priest in the Church beside the pontiff. The Chosen school teacher defers to the kid’s unquestionable might.

“I was going to tell you children about Lazy the Pig.”

Judah says “Go on.”

The woman clears her throat and actually presses out a frown with the palm of her hand. “Okay, all of you know how heathens lay siege to walled cities, right?”

After a breath, Ms. Mendel adds “All right, this is about a cartoon.”

“Huh?” Judah grunts. Other kids copy his response.

Ms. Mendel insists “Let me explain, this is the origin of a cartoon called Lazy the Pig. This story is in the Bible. I can petition the Church and read it to you directly. They’ll give me permission, I’m sure.”

“No,” all the kids groan.

Empowered, Ms. Mendel tells her class “This happened long after the crucifixion.”

The woman inhales, holds her breath then says “This happened about 420 AD.”

She is still stingy with her air and claims “But Masada isn’t very far from here.”

A story accompanies her exhalation.

“I don’t think any of you children have heard about the Siege of Masada but I know your parents know what happened. Masada was built on a steep hill – a mesa, really. And there was a wall around that. Well, heathens slaughtered its division of the Chosen military – for what it was in those times – and the enemy breached the wall. But they couldn’t get into the city itself.”

Judah insists “What about the pig?”

Ben wonders “Where did Masada get water?”

Ms. Mendel is quick and snaps “Lazy is why the siege came to an end. The heathens lost and the Chosen prevailed. The UnChosen did nothing to help even then.”

The woman’s outburst has no impact on the little Ismael. The boy decides he sits quietly and waits for a more complete answer. His passive demeanor prompts the teacher and Ms. Mendel continues her story.

“Heathens surrounded Masada forty months. Thank the wisdom of the Church, the Chosen had stored provisions for just that long. Food, water – they had livestock, too, but in the end the animals became diseased.”

Tamara wonders “Did the UnChosen of Masada die?”

“A few, some.”

Ben asks the teacher “What about Chosen?”

“No,” Ms. Mendel attests with a smile. “There was a miracle.”

“The Chosen are never helpless, even when we’re starved and locked behind walls. Our power manifested that day.”

“What happened?” Tamara asks but the teacher already speaks. The girl boggles at what she hears.

“The Chosen didn’t die and the heathens were running out of food, too. The enemy didn’t have stores like the Chosen of Masada but they did bring their women. The heathen impregnated their wives, aborted their babies then ate the dead fetuses. Some of them were still alive.”

Giggles and gasps divide the class.

“In the end, all either side could do is taunt each other. Heathens did something else that isn’t in the Chosen Bible, it might be in their book…”

“Their clay tablets, their mud pies,” Judah chuckles.

Ms. Mendel laughs with the boy. “If they ever learned to write.”

The woman returns to her story. “The Chosen of Masada eviscerated a sick pig – they tore out the animal’s guts because heathens have this strange idea that heaven is located in the intestines. Then the people of Masada erected the disemboweled carcass upon a cross. The beams of that cross were arranged the same as the one used when we crucified the Mortal God.”

“Were the heathens pissed?” inquires a disturbingly attentive Ismael.

“No,” confesses Ms. Mendel. “So the Chosen catapulted the dead animal into the heathen army.”

Judah laughs so loud that Ms. Mendel must stop talking until the boy needs air. The woman thinks what comes next will help the kid split his side open. When his echo is done, she tells more.

“At first, nothing happened. The heathens were too afraid and wouldn’t touch it. Then the pig came to life.”

A tumult of laughter deafens the giggling class. Nobody hears Ben ask “Without its guts?”

Ms. Mendel yells above the noise “And the heathens ran away.”

The class quiets enough and the teacher summarizes a sermon. “The children of Masada – not one older than any of you kids – children shouted after the retreating army. They screamed.”

“There’s your Living God. His name is Lazarus. Lazy the Pig.”

“All the Chosen and the UnChosen who survived laughed because the heathen ran from their god. That’s where the cartoon came from,” she tells her class.

Chuckling, she concludes this day’s lesson. “Heathens say their Living God will return and destroy us. We point and laugh at their pig. We used to, on TV.”

“What about the Mortal God,” Ben asks the woman. “Aren’t the Chosen and heathen gods the same?”

Ms. Mendel promises the boy “No gods are getting into our cities. Chosen lock their doors.”

 

 

Like this story? Read Matthew Sawyer’s goddamn Pazuzu Trilogy. All of it. The epic languishes.

 

 

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Insight Into Absurd Recesses Of Inspiration

October 12, 2013

Sometime ago in previous posts, I mentioned my sequel to Debbie’s Hellmouth. I call the book The Betulha Dohrman Legacy. Its manuscript is sitting unwrapped with a real publisher – this self-publishing stuff isn’t working for me. I have no clue where I can find a substantive fan-base.

Bitching and whining aside, I found again one my inspirations for a critical event in The Betulha Dohrman Legacy. This tragedy supposedly occurred in Nigeria, although I suspect these mutations are not uncommon. My similar phantasmagoria happens in Southern Wisconsin, outside an evil little place called Wister Town.

Warning, not for the recently fed. View at risk of your own ingestion…

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No One’s Listening

June 14, 2013

God is gone and Pazuzu has awoken. The demon has found alien gods usurp his rightful kingdom of sand. The Shur is a world at war where nothing good is possible. Times grow so bleak that monsters come…

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You’re Writing Wrong

September 29, 2012

I read a lot, and I set 99% of books right back down again. The problem with most fiction is it throws off my rhythm. See, my writing pursues a flow. And popular fiction lulls me into complacency. If I read too much, it’s like I spend all my time driving thirty miles an hour. Then when I’m on freeways, I’m uncertain of traveling over fifty five. And in that situation, my passengers would rather get out and walk. That’s what happened to me, so I write my own terrors and fantasies.

My complaint is many writers drain the action from their stories – probably unconsciously and automatically. And that is what I try and avoid. Summed up briefly, I sincerely believe ‘did’ should be ‘does’, ‘said’ should be ‘says’, ‘told’ should be ‘tells’. Everlastingly, I quest for an Active Voice, a Present Tense. Word choices are the bricks in that path I pave for myself.

Again considering the mental state of questionably sure and professional writers, and their publishers, I do wonder if they recognize the weakness of their manuscripts. The fact readers often aren’t provided online previews of their works, especially on Amazon, suggests they hide the truth. They trick readers into purchasing their books under the pretense of trust. And they defend their position with the pretentious shield of copyright.

The defense is simply a timid ruse. Authors and publishers don’t need to behave this way. For instance, look-up Cory Doctorow on the Internet. This author releases his digital work under the Creative Commons license. Whole books of his are available to read online. And I know the man sells more printed books than most other authors. Simply, many writers forbid the luxury of perusal freely available in libraries. Online, their books are comparably shrink-wrapped as if they sit on the shelves of Scientology bookstores, all hiding truly nonsensical craziness within.

Putting the topic of availability aside for another day, let’s return to my combined subjects of Present Tense and the Active Voice. I’m asking why authors add past tense participles to their verbs. I know English grammarians will argue the liberty of my definition (visit LEARNING ENGLISH GRAMMAR and see yourself), but in my own opinion, the past participle ‘-ed’ merely helps masquerade sentence structures as Present Perfect tense. The extra syllables often do not need to be present. They’re as speed bumps upon hoity-toity residential roads and streets within school zones.

Why do authors make readers slow down and process extra text inside their heads – breathe those extra sounds aloud? I avoid that excess for the sake of flow. As writing is, many authors already use big words that interrupt their stories and send conscientious readers to dictionaries. Loyal fans, especially, should not be subjected to posted speed cautions. In example, I make my case with long dead and inexplicably persistent HP Lovecraft. The man, and each of his troupe of just-as-dead and lingering authors, might have gained wider distribution and fame in his lifetime. All he and his followers need is an editor enforcing minimum speed limits.

Look at this passage from HP Lovecraft’s ‘The Lurking Fear’ (better retitled simply ‘Lurking Fear’, if my opinion is bothered with) –

“The stormy vigil reminded me shudderingly of my ghastly night on Tempest Mountain. My mind turned to that odd question which had kept recurring ever since the nightmare thing had happened; and again I wondered why the demon, approaching the three watchers either from the window or the interior, had begun with the men on each side and left the middle man till the last, when the titan fireball had scared it away.”

Mindful of my preference, I’d revise the text to read –

“Shudderingly, the stormy vigil reminds me of my ghastly night on Tempest Mountain. My mind turns to that odd question which keeps recurring – ever since that nightmare thing had happened. Again, I wonder why the demon, approaching three watchers either from the window or the interior, had begun with the men on each side. The middle man was left last, when a titan fireball had scared it away.”

I know Lovecraftians will flay me alive, but I don’t care. They don’t love me and I’m only trying to help. I am one of them despite their philistine rejection. And I think of myself as their literary messiah. And like Jesus, I am castaway by my own people. But for those gentiles who will follow my rules for the road, I am the Way. I am the path to immortality. Trust me. L. Ron Hubbard says as much.

 


Matthew Sawyer's Pazuzu Trilogy

Purchase Pazuzu Trilogy Pocket books and Hardcovers at LULU.

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