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.
Things are definitely heating up. We discover, while Snuff is talking with Quicklime, the Mad Monk’s snake, that high magic might be employed in the coming days to expose who are the Openers and who are the Closers. Snuff divulges that he is a Closer, Quicklime says he is too. We also learn that after the game, one side ends up dead depending on who ‘wins’, so the stakes have just got that much higher. It just hit me that this means that the Closers must have won the last time, given that Snuff is still around. In fact, I suspect that the Closers usually win, for I’m coming to think that what the Openers want is the return of the Great Old Ones, eternal chaos, cats and dogs living together, that kind of thing.
And talking of stakes, Quicklime tells Snuff that the Count has moved, having had the news from the Count’s bat familiar while the bat was drunk on fermented fruit. Snuff and the snake visit the Count’s new home… and find a staked, caped, very dead vampire in a coffin. It appears that someone has taken out one of the main players early. We learn this happens during the later stages of the game on occassion. Another raising of the stakes… Zelazny is building up the tension nicely here.
Snuff returns home to bring Jack up to speed, but finds him at Jill’s place ‘borrowing a cup of sugar’, and we all know what that means, don’t we? 🙂 Snuff and Graymalk have a further bonding chat and end up going to see what the gypsies are doing. What they are doing is dancing and feasting and playing the old songs. “Linda Enderby” is there, and when ‘she’ plays the old gypsy violin and almost gets lost in the music Snuff sees the disguise slip, sees the man coming through only to be pushed back down again by steely discipline and resolve. Snuff leaves with a new found respect for the Great Detective.
Dead players, high magic and more to come, as Graymalk has discovered that the vicar has a virgin locked away, being prepared for a sacrifice ritual, and Snuff has seen that the things in Jack’s mirror are really straining at the flaw in the glass. There’s much that could go wrong now, much keeping Snuff busy, and with the Count gone he needs to find time to recalibrate his map and find the new center where things will resolve. But time’s growing short and once the players are revealed as Openers or Closers some of his erstwhile companions will become enemies rather than friends.
Should he be trusting any of them? There’s a lot of subterfuge and deception going on, not just from the Great Detective. I’m sure there’s going to be a big twist somewhere along the line. Can’t rush ahead to see though. Rules is rules, and tomorrow is another day.
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.