A Night in the Lonesome October —
All is not what it seems…
In the murky London gloom, a knife-wielding gentleman named Jack prowls the midnight streets with his faithful watchdog Snuff – gathering together the grisly ingredients they will need for an upcoming ancient and unearthly rite. For soon after the death of the moon, black magic will summon the Elder Gods back into the world. And all manner of Players, both human and undead, are preparing to participate.
Some have come to open the gates. Some have come to slam them shut.
And now the dread night approaches – so let the Game begin.
The day begins early with Jack and Snuff on a foray into the city for ‘materials’. It’s bloody work again, but Jack announces himself pleased with the prize of a piece of green material from the clothes of a redhead, a necessary piece of a spell. Once again they are pursued by the dour detective and his rotund friend, the latter of which is still hampered by a limp so much that Jack and Snuff can get clear away. Did Snuff cause the limp, or is it the rotund chap’s old war wound playing up? Inquiring minds need to know.
In the morning Snuff’s rounds turn up an intruder! He finds a rat, sitting staring at the ‘things’ in the mirror. Snuff’s first instinct is to dispose of it outright, but the rat talks, announcing itself as Bobo, a familiar of “The Good Doctor”. After a bit of trading Snuff spares the rat in return for the location of the Count. Together they visit a ruined church. The rat tells Snuff that the Count is down in the crypt, sleeping. Snuff, sensing trouble, takes his word for it. In return for the rat’s help he shares his info on the locations of the other players.
At the close of the day we learn that, as the bells chime for midnight, Snuff can talk to Jack. They have a conversation about the day’s findings, in the course of which we discover that they have been together for some time, having played at least one previous great game in Dijon. They chat about the other players, the witch and the cat in particular, both seeming to be interested in them and in ascertaining whether they are friend or foe. Snuff finally settles down to sleep, seeking the advice of someone called Growler in his dreams.
Beneath the seemingly easy-going conversations of the day there’s been a lot going on. Zelazny is a master of foreshadowing and there’s a lot of it here, more than enough to quicken the interest and get us turning pages. I had to force myself to stop at the end of the day. I’m playing by rules here too.
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.
He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.
He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.
When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.
The Green & the Black —
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.
They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.
Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.
The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.