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.
A long, strange, chapter today. After a round of the house to ensure the ‘things’ are all under control we learn that Snuff has played the game many times, that he is more than he seems and under some kind of curse…and that Jack has told Jill of this, a Closer telling secrets to an Opener this late in the game, a thing unheard of before. Likewise Snuff and Greymalk are getting side-eyed from other familiars for being too close to each other. They’re not ‘playing the game’ properly to some eyes.
Several titbits of info emerge that might be relevant… “Linda Enderby” has been visiting with Larry Talbot again…and the vampire Snuff found staked was not wearing the Count’s magic ring. One of the game’s important artifacts is loose in the wild.
Snuff needs to recalculate his mental map and with Graymalk goes to his dog’s nest on high to scope out the land. He finds what he thinks might be the new center, but it appears to be an unremarkable patch of land. They decide to take a closer look.
This is where things drop far into the twilight zone. Having found a tumble of strangely carved rocks and then almost being killed by a bolt of lightning, Snuff and Graymalk are transported to the Dreamlands, where time has little meaning and reality is fluid, to say the least. After many strange sights, which Graymalk seems familiar with, they meet an ancient cat who claims to have saved them from a worse fate. Graymalk is given a secret, as yet unrevealed, about the end of the game, and Snuff is told there is a sea of blood in his immediate future, which disconcerts our old boy. He looks forward to running with Growler in his own, much simpler, dreamworld.
Things have taken a turn for the Lovecraftian and it appears that the Openers and Closers are indeed contending for the Opening of the Way to allow, or deny, the return of the Great Old Gods of Chaos. Zelazny is on fine form here, especially with the chaotic stuff which always brings to mind the shifting shadows in his Amber books, which are other great favorites of mine. I doubt there’s any chance of a Prince of Amber making an appearance in this game, but you never can tell in the patterns Zelazny weaves. That’s what makes him great.
As for Snuff. The revelation that he is cursed, and much older than he seems, and is in possession of certain ‘magics’ of his own has me wondering if he isn’t also one of the Lovecraftian pantheon, if not a Great Old One, at least one of their many acolytes, perhaps a failed Opener in a long ago game, now trapped and bent to service as a Closer by an ancient curse? Like Snuff himself, I prefer him as a dog.
Several times during this read through I’ve been reminded of the TV series PENNY DREADFUL. The dance that an adjacent in fictional realities cast of characters took in that one was ultimately dark and gothic, and there’s plenty of potential here for this one to go the same way.
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.