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.
An action packed chapter today. Our heroes discover, thanks to Jill’s warding spells, that several of the familiars have visited the house in their absence in the city, one of them a loping wolf-thing that Talbot insists wasn’t him.
After Snuff does his rounds to make sure everyone knows the vivisectionists didn’t get him, someone, Snuff suspects the Vicar again, lays a spell on Jack’s house, a booming thunder and lightning storm of a kind, but only on the inside. The ‘things’ in the mirror, in the steamer trunk, in the attic and in the basement, all different, all dangerous, all get loose at the same time. Jack and Snuff have a battle on their hands.
The slithering things slither. Jack tries to round them up with magic while Snuff shows his mettle, dealing with the thing from the steamer trunk before holding off the thing from the attic long enough for Jack to get to work on it with his blade. The thing from the basement arrives, intending on getting at Snuff. Jack dispatches it easily.
We learn in passing that Jack is indeed under a curse and the blade is a focus of that, but that he is also a magic user in his own right, and possessor of at least two wands of power, one of which is one of the game’s major artifacts.
We also learn that the ‘things’ weren’t actually part of the game, but were intended as insurance to cover Jack and Snuff’s tracks should they need to escape after the big night. That insurance policy is now revoked.
The things are all eventually dispatched after a wonderfully described battle in the house. Jill and Graymalk arrive to see what all the fuss has been about and they have a very domestic pot of tea in the carnage after the battle.
At the close of day they get rid of the remains of the things by filling the druid’s wicker baskets with the offal, hoisting them up a big oak tree and setting it alight, a bonfire for Halloween, and a very pretty sight.
A lot of what Zelazny does well today. Fast paced, action packed but you always know where all the participants are and what they’re doing due to his descriptive skills, and he still manages to slide some pertinent information in among the mayhem. Technically, he’s brilliant, and also too good to let you notice while you’re barreling along caught up in the plot.
We got another lovely, gruesome Wilson illo too today, of the thing from the steamer trunk, coming apart where Snuff has been at it. Wonderful stuff.
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.