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.
Jill and Greymalk come to Jack’s place to clear up; an excuse for Jill and Jack to share some more of his sherry. Graymalk has a revelation to start the day. The police have taken note of last night’s burning…but only because they have found the charred remains of Owen, the druid in a fourth basket, whereas our heroes only burned three. Someone has taken the opportunity to remove another player. At the same time, the druid’s magic sickle has disappeared.
The druid’s familiar, Cheeter the squirrel, is distraught, for the druid had it under a spell, having stolen its shadow and ‘intuition’ in order to ensure its loyalty. Snuff and Graymalk break into the druid’s house, confirm that the sickle is missing then discover that the squirrel’s shadow is trapped in a magical spell painted on the wall, held in place by seven silver nails.
Snuff once again shows his mettle and, slowly but surely, draws the nails out with his teeth. Graymalk explains what needs to be done with the nails for the return of the squirrel’s shadow; this is what she learned from the old cat in the Dreamlands.
Cheeter, shadow restored, leaves the game and returns to the woods.
A lovely chapter this one; it shows us again how Snuff and Graymalk have bonded, despite being on ‘opposite sides’, and shows us the loyalty between familiars is just as strong, if not stronger, than their loyalty to their masters. Zelazny deliberately keeping the touch light today, to bring us down from the pyrotechnics of the night before.
Snuff now suspects that there might be a ‘secret’ player, one who is always throwing off his calculations. The plot has thickened. Again.
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.