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.
After being fed by Jill, who Snuff realizes is actually younger and prettier than she lets on, Snuff and Graymalk investigate the manse where “Enderby” is living. Graymalk sneaks inside. Meanwhile Snuff has a conversation with the great white owl, and discovers that the Vicar is indeed a player, and has a white raven as a companion who has been asking questions. Snuff and the owl surmise that the Vicar is new, and late to the game and has been trying to catch up. Now that he knows the vicar is a player, Snuff’s magic tracking system kicks in and he sees that the vicar’s killing of the policeman was a ritual one in an attempt to garner information. The owl and Snuff agree to keep each other posted, although Snuff keeps his knowledge of Talbot’s ‘lunar proclivities’ to himself.
Graymalk is let out of the manse. She tells of an altar hidden inside and they realize the place might indeed be the center they have been looking for. Why the Great Detective has ‘claimed’ it, and why he is maintaining the subterfuge of disguise are still unanswered questions.
Graymalk and Snuff are becoming good friends. We discover some of Graymalk’s background, as a lost, almost feral cat found by Jill, almost the same herself, both of them longing for a different world. We’re still unsure whether they are Openers or Closers, but both seem to have a desire to mix things up. We also learn that the ‘game’ isn’t played very often, only when there is a full moon on Halloween, and when Snuff tells Graymalk he has played the game before, he is giving away the fact that he has been with Jack for quite some time.
The last visit of the night is to the Good Doctor, to investigate rumors of a third person in the house. This third man turns out to be a hulking, slow-witted thing. When he takes a liking to the cat and starts to crush it to his breast Snuff has to alert the Good Doctor to get him to save Graymalk. They make a quick getaway, having learned much that night, but also having been given much to think about.
Snuff and Graymalk’s growing friendship is very nicely done, reinforcing their closeness, and their differences. Snuff is revealing things to her he won’t tell anyone else, but he is also keeping things from her, like the identity of the Great Detective. Is this through loyalty to Jack? Or is it distrust,…or just natural caution given that he has played the game before?
Friendships and alliances are forming and reforming, the players are all dancing around each other, and the wildcards are getting ready to throw their spanners in whatever works they can.
Round and round and round we spin. It is a great world Zelazny has woven from these iconic characters, and having Snuff being the narrator while the icons dance around him is the simple, but brilliant, idea it all hinges on.
I’m absolutely loving this slow trip through it.
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.