Friday, April 14, 2017

The Circle Must Break

The Circle Must Break
by
Bobby Derie


Turlough fell before the walls of Urzurum,
A broad bronze spear through his stomach,
He lay trampled by his fellows as the moon rose,
And a tiny pink girl-child with a bronze knife kindly cut his throat.


Murdoc, son of Turlough, died guarding the tents of the clan,
With hunter's skill the thief waited for his prey in the shadows,
Her iron dagger coal-black to not reflect the moonlight,
And she watched as he bled out, shaking at her first kill.


Dubh was the widow's child, given as thrall to pay a debt,
His mother looked not on him again;
Captured in chains when the horse-men came,
And died in chains one long night many winters since.


Fianna was daughter of slaves, and knew not her people,
Dwelt forever among cast-down eyes and broken tusks,
Bled upon the floor where-ever and whenever her master took her,
And at sight of her stunted son, fought not for life.


Orin rose outcast, the unacknowledged bastard,
No favor, no friends, only a worn iron knife whet to a fine edge,
Freedom came in the moonless night as a chain of bleeding throats,
And in the dark swamp, he became a legend would-be masters feared.


Talin, orc-child, conceived in pain one dark night,
Born in pain, his mother knew him,
When of age, his father knew him,
And yet, will he know himself?


The orcs break upon the walls,
The orcs slave and are enslaved,
The orcs rape and are raped,
The circle must break.


###



Friday, April 7, 2017

Picnic Amid the Ruins

Picnic Amid the Ruins
by
Bobby Derie

Starfire burned down on us from the firmament, pale and bright on the moonless moor, as we tramped down to the ruins. Ludmilla ran ahead, freckles speckling her bare shoulders, fangs flashing like the little predator she was as she chased after the small furry prey that moved at night. Her sister-in-blood, Lashauna, was the new moon to Ludmilla's full moon, chocolate skin gone grey in the starlight save for a patch of vitiligo over one eye, slipping through the tall grass light as an owl. Their eyes and smiles were the same, and I smiled to watch them run, now apart, now hand in hand.

The old stones stood on a bit of a hill, and I reckoned that there was more than foundations buried beneath the soil, the deposition of centuries, covered with grass and stunted, windswept oak. Stone doorways led to half-filled chambers, and the girls liked to clamber and slither through the "caves," making friends with bat and serpent. Lashauna spoke of the worms of the earth, and Ludmilla spoke of hidden treasures, or wondered if not some unspoken cousin might sleep in some antechamber yet undiscovered, waiting to be awakened.

Our picnic-spot was "the altar stone" - though in truth I thought it more likely to be the base of a ciderpress, a roughly pentagonal block of smooth stone into which a groove had been carefully ground around the edges, coming together in the front to let the juices flow into the waiting receptacle. It served as a suitable table for the offerings I had brought this night, and laid out with care, the small forms squirming against their bonds and flinching at my every caress, the worn gold cups and knives, and of course the book. The girls shrieked their ultrasonic "Marco Polos" - the bat's equivalent of the game, where the victim stayed silent, and the blind pursuer found them by echolocation.

When all was in preparation, I called out softly, yet they stopped and stared at me like lionesses caught at feasting, eyes wide, blood dripping from their chins. Some poor rabbit, most likely; always children spoil their appetite. I called them again, and the wind turned, bringing their scent to me as they half-clambered and half-flew on the breeze. They nestled at my feet, one on either side, and on impulse I knelt down and kissed each on her forehead in turn. Then I reached over and retrieved the book.

"Before we eat, darlings," and the fat squirming things struggled, pudgy fingers flailing, "let us have a story and a lesson..."

###

Friday, March 31, 2017

Grandmother Worm's Tales

Grandmother Worm's Tales
by
Bobby Derie


"When we say, the world owes you nothing," Grandmother Worm weighed the scissors in her hand, "we mean that all of the rules and regulations, the traditions and norms of how we live and how we tell you to live - these do not guarantee success." She drew back the child's long hair. "You can do everything right, do everything you are told, work hard and be honest and faithful, and things can still go wrong. You can get sick," snip "your spouse may be unfaithful" snip "your work can fail." snip.


The steel-eyed woman surveyed her work in the mirror. "Nothing you do guarantees success. Yet you may still be punished for not doing it. Because we are all in this together. No justice." snip.


*


It was three flights of stairs to the roof. Each step was punctuated by a bony shoulder stabbing into Jim's stomach.


"Here we are then." Jim heard a woman's voice as rough hands set him down, head hanging over the side of the building. There was a slab of concrete there - and an iron rail - what looked like a loading dock.


"Now Jim, I want you to know something. I'm going to throw you off this building. An' what you should be doing, is praying that you die when you hit the ground." The voice leaned down and she whispered in Jim's ear. "Because if you don't, I'm going to carry you back up here and do it again. And again. Until you do. So you pray real hard, Jimmy. Maybe someone up there likes you." Jim felt himself being lifted up. "I sure as hell don't."


*


"It is an old story," Grandmother Worm said, while brushing her hair. "A girl loved a boy, but the boy loved a woman." Gnarled fingers fussed over a knot. "Youth versus age, innocence versus experience. And a small wrinkled cock in the middle." She sighed, and continued to brush. "A very old story. Energies spent on a struggle over something that wasn't worth fighting for in the first place."


"But you won, right?" Her granddaughter asked.


"I triumphed," she said. "It isn't quite the same thing. When you win, you get what you want. When you triumph, no-one can argue with you because they're all dead. Not really the same thing at all."


*


"She said...she said I would become like a god."


The fury cradled the Jim's head in her hands, and drew her to her breast. "Yes," she said softly, feeling the broken man tremble, tears trickling down her breasts, until they boiled away into steam.


"But you forgot one thing."


The vertebrae didn't snap, as the fury gave a sudden twist, they shattered with a sudden, audible cracking. The fury looked down, not unkindly, at the broken shell she held.


"Even gods die."


*


"Grandmother," the child asked, ringed about with shorn curls. "Tell me another?"


"Of course, child," Grandmother Worm said. "As many as I have to tell."


###

Friday, March 24, 2017

Arkham '88

Arkham '88
by
Bobby Derie


"Now your Pickman Democrats - that's what they called them in Boston - were very progressive for their time. Thought everyone was equal. 'We all feed the same worms.' Thing is, they meant that literally. They'd hold meetings at funeral homes, picnic fundraisers in cemeteries, thousand-dollar-a-plate dinners in these dark cellars, all raw or fermented meat courses. Very trendy, but politicians ate it up with a smile on their face. They were easy votes and had deep pockets. And the more the politicos ate, the wider the smiles got...but they didn't like Kennedy. His father - the bootlegger - had ties with Innsmouth before '27, and even after that they had kin all up and down the coast. Very conservative, but they all voted for Kennedy. I've always wondered what he promised them for that, because they were all very conservative, especially after the federal raid on Innsmouth; liked small government, self-sufficiency, property rights...really odd fellows to rub elbows at the polls."


Perched on the end of the bar, with the big bay windows on either side, O'Donnell's off of College Street gave a fair view of the Miskatonic campus. Mack had planted himself there just as the Young Republicans were putting up the bunting on the platform, and secured his position by opening a tab with a twenty dollar deposit. The vice president was due in at about 2 o'clock, to give his speech.


I checked the film for the sixth time, and nursed another sip of the local special, which I couldn't pronounce but was a mix of rums and tropical fruit juices with a sour, almost butter aftertaste. It was tiki in a glass and I would have had another one if I didn't have to shoot that afternoon. Mack stuck to shaken martinis, keeping one hand on the satchel with the Dictaphone. We were, despite it all, here to work.


Local color was supplied by the staff of the Arkham Advertiser and Aylesbury Transcript; a couple of genial fellows named Gene Gillman and John Peabody, respectively. Lifers in small-town papers, Mack had made their acquaintance on the campaign trail back in '72, and ever since they had made a point of getting together whenever they were all in the Valley. They made a point of sticking to beer - a cream-colored bock that made Michelob look like horse piss.


"Arkham - college town." Mack went on. "Education generally means liberal, means Democrat. Probably a lot of pinkos in the Department of Medieval Metaphysics."


"Less than you'd think." Gene's stubby fingers, webbed a little near the joints, dug into a packet of saltines. "Arkham is old money, and Miskatonic is still private - not like a land-grant university. Lot of trust-fund kids, and the rest came in on the G. I. Bill after the War." - he meant World War II; both Gene and John were navy veterans, and had done their stint and got out before Korea, much less Vietnam. "Not a lot of hippies or leftists, except for the union-types, and they're all right."


"The Valley went for Dukakis." Mack said, playing with an olive. A police horse clopped past the bar, and for an instant I saw the whole thing neatly framed off - window, doorway, window - horse and rider in each shot. Then I shook my head and asked for some water and coffee. O'Donnell grunted and put on a fresh pot.


"Kingsport went for Dukakis; not Arkham." Peabody interjected. "Down in Dunwich," he pronounced it 'Dunnich', like the natives, "the old men at the cracker barrel still bitch about it. Dukakis loved all the high-tech stuff happening in Boston, ignored half the rest of the state. You know how much farming and fishing have fallen off in the Valley, and the kids all want to move to the towns for the union jobs..."


"...and the union wages drive the business out-of-state, so the kids move away, the banks foreclose, the old houses and barns just go to pot." Gene finished for him. "Whole damn Valley's going down the shitter." He punctuated the statement by slamming his empty glass on the bar. O'Donnell shot him a reproachful look as he took the glass from the journalist's unresisting hand, and started filling a new one from the tap.


"But what does the Valley think about Bush?" Mack said, staring down at the Miskatonic quad. The open doorway nicely framed the podium where the vice-president would be speaking; the press box was already set up a little ways below it, and a lanky grad student in bellbottoms and spectacles was spooling out the cables for the microphones. You couldn't say a word these days without it being recorded. Some said Kingsport News would send a television van, but they hadn't shown up yet. Probably took the wrong turn on the Pike.


"Willie Horton won't play in Arkham," Gene said stubbornly. "Too many folks had kin in Innsmouth. You know how long it took for them to get released? I had cousins that died in that godforsaken camp."


Peabody nodded, adding in: "The whole psychiatry angle won't play either, not with the Sanitarium. You know," he grinned and slid back on his stool at such an angle I didn't know he kept his balance, "they used to let some of them out, in the afternoons? Not the dangerous cases, but the lifers, the ones on work-release programs or whatever. Old-fashioned kooks. Let them wander down into the village, do their shopping, check out books from the library, then back by dinner. College kids loved it. One of them would read weird books like Tolkien out on the lawn, just where the podium is set up. Teenagers would skip class to sit out there and listen as he read."


"A cult?" I asked. Somehow, the coffee had appeared in front of me, and I started sipping it.


Gene blew me a raspberry. "Worse. Young Democrats. Pickman Democrats."


###

Friday, March 17, 2017

Channels

Channels
by
Bobby Derie

"What is your best idea of the day?" Jenny cast out the line as a moonstruck lover might drop a penny into a well.

"The Uprighter." Savita tuned in, eyes the color of television. "He's a turtle god that you pray to when you're stuck on your back, legs flailing in the air. His church teaches you to help others who are on their back by setting them upright again. There was a great schism between those and the Rockers Cult, who felt that the best was to upright themselves was by rocking, reasoning that the Uprighter helps those who help themselves. The schism was eventually healed by the United Creed, who allow that any method to get back upright, be it by yourself or with help, is acceptable, since the important thing is that everyone is upright."

Jenny took Savita's hand, and dragged her out of the house. The girl's swollen head wobbled on her neck, eyes not fixed on this reality, but her little voice buzzed and then rattled on.

"Underground is magic. There is no logical reason why this should be, yet there you are. Children know this. They clutch your arm tighter as they descend. The air is different in your lungs, on your tongue. You become aware of being bounded, of knowing where the walls and ceiling are, and instinctively you keep track of the light sources, and the shadows that lurk in the corners, just beyond their reach..."

Savita's voice faded out, little clicking sounds issuing from her throat, but Jenny held her hand tighter as they came near the playground.

"Bellam's Giraffe followed a divergent evolutionary path. Where we normally associate giraffoids with longer necks, the better to feed from tall trees, Bellam's Giraffe evolved heavier ossicones, a thicker skull and spine, and extreme musculature. It's general feeding strategy is to knock the tree down by head-butting it, and then feeding off the fallen leaves." The sightless eyes were wide as Jenny locked her into the swing, static flickering across the irises. "The art of bartending has little to do with mixing drinks, but in saying the right thing that makes the customer look within themselves for a moment and then order another drink. A skilled bartender doesn't even need to speak. They can raise a thirst with a look."

Jenny liked the swings. She figured that Savita liked the swings too. When the younger girl got excited the channels changed more quickly. Like skipping swiftly through a playlist, catching snippets. Savita went up, and came back down.

"May all your gods be small ones, may all your devils be beaten back by the ringing of bells and snapping of fingers and spilling of earth; may all your stars be blind and all your winds dumb; let the little spirits of the earth and wood look on you as one of your own, and all the spirits of air and fire look you by; place not your hand in the trap, nor your feet in the flame; see the path before you and to either side, see the path behind you and remember why you took it; drink only what you can keep down and eat only what you can pass. So be blessed."

Up, and down.

"The horror host was your personal psychopomp, the dweller on the threshold of the page or the silver screen, who prepared you for the wonders and terrors you were about to experience...and, perhaps more than that, who took delight in the macabre, the gruesome, and the sadistic. They put a smile on horror, they showed you it was okay to smile at all the things that crawled in darkness beneath the rocks they lifted for your inspection."

Up, and down.

"There is no more a sense of movement in America; the frontiers have all been lost, the culture exists in a timeless now, generations grown up in blue jeans, which have persevered and evolved, specialized into a thousand shades and designs, some with eye-catching rivets or artful tears, ripped knees and camouflage fades, and yet all the same, always the same, for a pair of jeans is a pair of jeans on either side of the great millennial line. Now is the era of decay; it is no country for young men and women, come into their own to find only they are too educated or too ignorant, the jobs taken by those who cannot afford to retire, and the shiny places are too expensive for them to be where the action is. Bright young things are used up and burned out at a furious pace, but thanks to modern medicine more and more of them will live to regret their mistakes; the 27 Club never looked so inviting as when you look back from the wrong side of that milestone, and realize how you have already peaked and never known it, yet there is still the long, long decline ahead, and there is nothing to do but resign ourselves to the culture that has lost all momentum, it is not profitable enough to move forward, we bite and claw if they try to move back, and so we are stuck in the eternal limbo bequeathed by the tasteless Nineties to their children, refining the same flavors over and over again, and we too tired of religion to even say 'Amen.'"

"Amen," Jenny whispered, as Savita sat there in the swing, smiling. Jenny sat there for a while and hugged her tight, wondering how much of her was tuned in to this time and place.

###

Friday, March 10, 2017

Privilege

Privilege
by
Bobby Derie

Reddit reflected eerily in her glasses as she angrily pounded at the keyboard. "You realize your bitching and whining is just an expression of your white male privilege, right?" She spoke loud enough to be heard over the cubicle wall.

"Yes, very probably." His answer floated back. She paused, rubbing her wrists.

"You're not going to stop, are you?"

There was an audible sigh, and then a series of subaudible grunts, the creak of a desk, and a shudder that shook the fabric-covered wall between them. A hairy head peered over the wall, cheeks fuzzy with about three weeks half-assed effort of beard. "I wasn't planning on it."

"Do you know the shit I would get if I posted like you do?"

"No," he said amiably. "Although I reckon it would be pretty bad. Lot of assholes out there attack folks for being different."

"You're not helping." She deliberately turned back to her screen.

"I know," The head dipped out of sight as the mountain began climbing back down. "I don't know how."

###

Monday, March 6, 2017

Supplication of the Old Ones

Supplication of the Old Ones
by
Bobby Derie


The whip cracked, and was answered not with a scream but a moaning whimper.


"You know your place." A latex hand clawed idly on his back. He could not see her with the blinders on, but he could feel her moving around him, the click of her heels on the bare cement, the vibration resonating up through his knees.


The whip cracked again, and he shuddered.


"It is good to know your place. It makes people comfortable to know that there is an order to things, and that they have their position within that order. To be pecked, and to do the pecking."


A rubber toe caressed him, not ungently.


"So much of our thinking of religion is shaped by Christian doctrine, we hardly think of it. In our daily lives we swim in a culture that is permeated by not just their values, but their ideas of how things are. Even those who have never darkened the door of a church in their lives think they understand worship and faith, they think that those are...universal. That all religions are like that, with their fanatics and their laws, their holy books and institutions."


He gagged, momentarily, on the silicone rod in his throat. Like an attentive owner, she went over and checked on him as saliva oozed out of the corners of his mouth, eyes tearing up.


"There, there pet." She went over to the rack, replaced the whip and then carefully stepped into a harness, buckling the hardness in place.


"The old gods - and I do not just mean Rome and Greece, although those are the ones we are most familiar with - the were no worshipped in the same sense as the pale Christ. The relationship was much more transactional. They were forces of the universe to be mollified, hungry invisibles to be satisfied...and yet, there was often an exchange."


Click click click of her heels as she left his sight again. He felt the warmth of her hand through the later as it lay on his tender buttocks. Then the sudden pull and emptiness...and a fullness again. A slow, long creep that only ended when her hips rested against him. She leaned down, pressing herself into his bare back.


"You can even see echoes of it in the Old Testament, the covenant between God and his chosen people. Why should God be bound by a promise, a contract? That is an older style of religious thinking, from a more primitive monolatrialism poking through."


She withdrew, and he shivered in anticipation of her return, feeling the bridge between them like a living thing. Wondering how wet she was, if she was getting anything out of this.


The thrust, when it came, made him yelp.


"What we call magic today - the invocation of older entities, of the old covenants, to provide the quid for the quo - it is not worship in the sense of offering up empty prayers. No, those who worship the Old Ones are superstitious, they allow awe and terror to overcome them."


She began to pick up the pace.


"The Old Ones do not need our prayers, and seldom heed them unless there is something in it for them. That is what so many forget, or have never known. It is about want, and you have to find out what they want and how to give it to them. In the olden days they tried sacrifices of flesh and blood, but there is a limit to physical hungers. No, sometimes they want something rarer...an emotion, a need, a call that echoes something of what they themselves feel...a true supplication..."


He burned. The schlup schlup schlup mounted as her hips slammed into him, and he felt it like a pile driver into his guts. Once again, he began to choke. Quick as a flash, she grabbed his neck from behind and unbuckled the gag, ripping it from his throat like a squirming fish yanked out of the water. He breathed deep, retching dryly, and she never once stopped pounding.


"Say it. Say it now."


"Sh-shub..." he breathed and then screamed "SHUB-NIGGURATH!"


All went white, and then dark. He collapsed onto the concrete, into the puddle of wetness below him. The whole atmosphere had changed, it felt warm and smelled of wet fur and sweat. Limply, he felt her withdraw, his hole felt ragged, turned out. There was snuffling, the feel of a heavy presence in the room, the tread separate and distinct from the dainty click of her heels.


"He's all warmed up for you," his mistress said, in a reverent tone. "Just the way you like it."




###