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.
Another long chapter today, and the game is starting to take shape. Snuff has recruited the help of Larry Talbot in attempting to find the center of things and takes him to the spot where Snuff and Graymalk were transported to the Dreamlands. They have a long talk about the nature of Snuff’s magic and what it can, and can’t, do. Talbot believes another player has been taken off the table and asks if Snuff’s magic can identify them, but that isn’t possible. They walk Snuff’s rounds and eventually discover a player has indeed died. The mad monk has apparently hanged himself, but investigation shows that it’s a set up. He has been murdered, and his magical icon stolen. Someone is collecting artifacts, and whoever it is will have gained a distinct advantage in the game to come.
Snuff suspects the vicar. Later, while investigating with Graymalk, they are almost caught in the vicar’s house. Snuff has a chance to get away, but Graymalk is trapped by the vicar, so Snuff goes back and rescues her, mangling the vicar’s ear in the processs. A wonderfully written scene that serves to show how tightly cemented Snuff and Graymalk’s relationship has come; Snuff is now bonded to her almost as tightly as he is to Jack, willing to put himself in peril for her.
Snuff and Graymalk accompany Jack and Jill to London. Their master and mistress are getting very friendly, Jill even going so far as to share a warding spell that will inform them if anyone tries to enter their house in their absence. They are enjoying their trip, but Snuff realises they are being followed. Before he can raise the alarm he is kidnapped.
The vicar has delivered Snuff into the hands of vivisectionists where he is to be rendered down in candle wax, no doubt for use in some nefarious ritual. He is saved at the last minute by Jack, an angry Jack full of the power of some dark spell. When they leave the vivisectionists they leave a sea of blood behind, fulfilling the prophecy of the old cat in the Dreamlands. The scene in the vivisectionist’s lair is wonderfully done, just the right mixture of comic accents and Snuff- in-peril moments allied with some of Zelazny’s descriptive work, which, at its best, is second to none.
So someone is gathering the things of power. Is it the vicar? Or is this another of Zelazny’s misdirections. The Good Doctor’s ‘big man’ has also been prowling around. Is he being used for nefarious purposes? And how will Jack and Jill’s obviously budding relationship pan out when all the Openers and Closers have to declare for one side or the other? Lots of questions still to be answered, and the moon is still growing. Talbot’s curse will obviously have a part to play too.
And is Jack also, like Snuff, under some kind of curse, or is he using the dark magic that surrounds him deliberately? I predict more blood.
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.