Friday, October 21, 2016

Corn Rock

Corn Rock
Bobby Derie

Out west, where the forests run down the mountains, and over the foothills, and give way at last to that endless prairie. It was a rich yet desolate country. Every neighbor in every county had tales about where the last Indian died, hanging from a naked tree or bleeding out his life in a creek that ran past the house, for the first generation on that frontier toiled and bled for the land they claimed, but not in Corn Rock. No tribe ever admitted to settling there, not even the renegades; they sang no songs about that place, nor watered their horses along the winding banks of Still Creek. Silence can sometimes speak more horror than any whispered campfire tale, and dry bones turned up by a plow a better message than any ghost story written in a book. So it was in Corn Rock.

Maud Dreyfus had come down from the Salt Lake, with three husbands and sixteen children buried behind her by the time she was thirty. Her allotment was the field with the Corn Rock, from which the town took its name, a rounded, peaked dome of grey granite carved about with signs of standing corn, long faint and weathered. Neighbors said she so hated the sight of it she left the corn to stand around it when time came to harvest, and hired a laborer to do it - a free black called Sam. Accidents come with all farm work, where sickles and knives, axes and hoes all have their part; but you don't need a blade to harvest ears of corn, so no one could ever quite figure how Sam lost three toes on his left foot out in the field that day, though none blamed him for refusing to go back to finish. When she could find no laborer to do the work, the Widow Dreyfus left the ears on the stalk for the yellow-eyed magpies.

"She couldn't keep chickens or turkeys in her yard, because of the magpies," Joel Welch once told the Corn Rock Express. "The chickens wouldn't last a minute. I saw once, she had bought three hens, and had them out by the porch; threw down some parched corns. The magpies came in from the field, a whole flock of them, must have been twenty birds, all black and yellow. They fought the chickens for the corn...and left the hens bloody. Now a magpie, it's no match for a chicken, on its own. The larger birds can be fierce - but they couldn't fly, and they were outnumbered. You ever see ants take down a caterpillar? It was like that. The Widow Dreyfus tried to shoo them away with a shotgun, but it was too late. The magpies flew away with every kernel - and the hen's eyes."

The first pioneers to what would become Corn Rock were Marbonites - an offshoot of an offshoot of the followers of Joseph Smith. The Marbonites held close to the idea of each family as a priesthood in itself; they shared a community, but there were no doctrinal disputes, nor any sort of organized church. "Each man and woman shall come to Christ through their own understanding," Jefferson Marbon said; and so Corn Rock was not founded with any sort of temple, but each homestead built their own chapel for private worship, and every married man was a high priest of his own personal religion. One of the most colorful legacies of this sect are the Marbonite bibles - which, according to tradition, each man would copy out by hand from his father's tome: errors, apocrypha, and omissions; illustrations according to their own tastes and abilities.


Friday, October 14, 2016


Bobby Derie

The Jedi was wounded. The trooper checked the charge on his blaster, wiped some of the mud from his visor. Burnt flesh and ozone hung in the air outside the cave mouth where the Force-user had gone to ground. Heaped bodies of his fellow troopers, squadmates, laying where they had fallen. Black lines of burnt ceramic and plastic criss-crossed the clean white lines of their armor; blasters and other weapons smoked and sparked where the lightsaber had cut through power lines and battery packs, the burning plasma flash-igniting anything combustible.

They'd been on the planet seven weeks. The first part of the training had been building the assault course and barracks. It got everyone in shape, reinforced teamwork and basic roles and duties. More than that, the trooper reflected now, thinking of how they had cut through the trees with the plasma torches. The higher-ups wanted his squad to have a respect for what they were about to face.

The senior instructor they'd brought in was a scarred veteran of the Clone Wars; old-style armor, the unnatural strength of prosthetic limbs underneath the armor. He brought with him egg-shaped droids that unfolded with spindly arms wielding lines of fire that cut through everything, reflected blaster fire. Faster than human. Smart, hard to fool. The first exercises had embarrassed the squad - until the trooper had come up behind the droid and blasted its head off from behind.

The nights were one-on-one training. Hunting sessions, through the dry forest. Teaching the squad how to move, how to track. To use the environment to bring the game to ground, to hound them through the forest, into traps or pockets where we would have them. Around the fire, as the meat roasted, the veteran told his stories. Rogue Force-users, calm and efficient killers. The styles they fought with. How they could sense you from afar. Reach inside your mind, see what you're thinking. They were terrible foes - but not immortal.

At the start of week eight, TIE scouts flying to the west spotted the Jedi - a wookiee. The squad was ordered to break camp and execute. The trooper remembered how they'd used the instructor's lessons. Reconnoiter the area, fix the terrain in your mind. Jedi could be prescient, but they weren't omniscient. It became a game of holochess: limit their routes of escape, herd them into situations where you could bring more firepower to bear than they could deal with. Keep them off-balance and guessing, don't give them time to think. The Jedi were trained fighters; when pressed, they'd fall back to their training reflexes - which were predictable.

The scouts reported the scars burned into the trunks of the trees. The found traps - simple dead-falls and pit traps - as well as rubbish-pits and field latrines, concealed campfire sites. The wookiee had been living in the area for a long time, that was plain. Then, the jackpot: a glacial remnant rock outcropping; the way the grey, lichen-covered stones lodged against each other made a shallow cave - with a shelf full of lightsaber components, including three crystals. The Jedi might have abandoned the area, but they wouldn't abandon that.

The instructor took temporary lead as squad leader, outlined the plan: sweeping advance through the forest, drive the Jedi towards the cave. TIE bombers would keep circulating on the edges of the engagement zone, ready to rain hell as soon as the Jedi was spotted, cutting off any escape. The trooper was appointed to point, the tip of the spear as they invaded the wookiee's territory.

First contact had come when the wookiee's bowcaster ripped the veteran's head off. Our blasters had been equipped with underbarrel microgrenade launchers: we laid down a barrage. Jedi can sense the future, instincts like spiders sensing the boot, but explosions create too much chaos, too much shrapnel. The grenades boomed one close after another, the aftermath of the first explosion overwhelmed by the start of the next. Somewhere above that, we heard a ululating roar of pain. The wookiee was hurt - and on the move.

The trooper took point, led the sweep, tracking the prey. The squad had heavy blasters ready; leapfrogging between cover as half covered the ones that were moving. They were practically within sight of the outcropping when there was the telltale click and buzz of a lightsaber coming to life.

The wookiee had erupted from one of the pit traps. The burning blade was of greater than average length, but with a long handle that the giant Jedi could wield in a two-handed grip. Two of the squad fell with the first sweep, which left after-images in the trooper's vision. Blaster fire erupted as the squad reacted, bursting burning chunks out of the trees and sending smoking cinders into the dry ground below. The wookiee's lightsaber flashed and blurred, scattering the shots that came close to hitting its body - then it was gone.

Smoke from the impromptu forest fires started to obscure the squad's vision, and the trooper called in the bombers. There was a dull thump and whoop as they began laying down a barrage, the explosions slowly coming closer. The rest of the squad surged forward toward the outcropping - they knew where the prey was going to go. Moving more cautiously, dropping to the ground for cover, the trooper crept forward on his belly like the veteran had tossed him.

At the last line of trees before the outcropping, the trooper stopped to survey the scene. He had missed the action by seconds. The helmet - complete with head - of the last of his head rolled along the ground, neck stump a solid circle of black. In the open, the wookiee had a noticeable limp; blood matted the fur around its left knee. It was almost naked, except for a forest camouflage bandoleer.

His finger squeezed the trigger of the heavy blaster, squeezing off a quick group of random shots. The wookiee reacted instinctively, raising the lightsaber to ward them off, but the blasts went wild and crashed into the lichen-covered rock behind it - causing splinters of stone to burst off and hit the Jedi in the back. The wookiee roared in pain - it couldn't dodge, and the trooper was too far away - so it ducked into the cave.

The trooper crept forward, senses alert. The cave was shallow, and afforded cover, but there was no other way in or out. All around the entrance lay the corpses of his squad. Inside, he imagined the Jedi was scooping up its treasured lightsaber crystals. The thumping of the bombers came closer. The trooper raised his blaster, aiming at a spot near the cave entrance where one of his squadmate's corpses had come to rest. He only had to wait.

A furry burst of speed catapulted out of the cave, lightsaber a swirling shield before it to ward off the blaster fire it knew would come.

The trooper blast struck his dead squadmate's equipment belt; setting off the grenades and extra blaster power packs they carried. The explosion caught the Jedi off-guard, drove him forward, off balance. There was a puff from the trooper's blaster, and the Jedi instinctively brought the lightsaber up to deflect - catching and igniting the microgrenade that had been lobbed from the underbarrel launcher. That explosion took off the wookiee's hand and most of his face. The smoldering corpse fell into a furry heap.

The trooper emptied the rest of the charge into the Jedi, just to be sure. When he could make out the blackened outline of the thing's skeleton, he called it in.

"Report back to the training camp." The voice hissed over the comm. "Lord Vader wants a full report on this one, trooper."


Friday, October 7, 2016

Hamlet's Distressing Glimpse of Absolute Truth

Hamlet's Distressing Glimpse of Absolute Truth
Bobby Derie and H. P. Lovecraft

Exeunt all but HAMLET


At last, the veil is lifted from my eyes!
All illusions of virtue and grace fall
As scales from the carpenter's healing touch.
How blindly have I wandered through life,
Uncomprehending what vision beholds.
The worm in the rose, the slow death of all,
The bizarre mad race of humanity,
Self-blinded earth-gazers, running from truth.
What matters virtue or art, this bright day?
All pride, all honour, all courtly conduct,
Are but the tricks of trained animals
Seeking thy master's kind word and sweet treat.
What curse is this, to lose my innocence
Yet retain all my powers of reason?
Sure, oblivion be the blissful course.
For my mind works constant and unfettered,
Alien thoughts on old familiar themes,
And no more can I ignore the true world.
Lost must I be for a time in my own
Mind, to reconsider all I once knew,
Or thought I knew, and see the universe
As it truly is. Blind and uncaring
To human concerns and human desires,
I now can credit the unthinkable.
What insight was disguised as madness!
And might be once again, for I fear all
Shall see it working in me from now on.
Yet I had rather be known as madman
Than dwell once more in perfect ignorance,
Whatever may yet come I cannot see,
But I shall know it and own to it, aye!
To my own self, I shall always be true.

Exeunt HAMLET.

"Continuing in the dramatick line, but ascending the scale several degrees, I find "Hamlet" a most absorbing character, even as you do. It is hard for me to give an original estimate or opinion, since other commentators' opinions are so abundant; but I find in Hamlet a rare, delicate, & nearly poetical mind, filled with the highest ideals and pervaded by the delusion (common to all gentle & retired characters unless their temperament be scientific & predominantly rational--which is seldom the case with poets) that all humanity approximates such a standard as he conceives. All at once, however, man's inherent baseness becomes apparent to him under the most soul-trying circumstances; exhibiting itself not in the remote world, but in the person of his mother & his uncle, in such a manner as to convince him most suddenly & most vitally that there is no good in humanity. Well may he question life, when the perfidiousness of those whom he has reason to believe the best of mortals, is so cruelly obtruded on his notice. Having had his theories of life founded on mediaeval and pragmatical conceptions, he now loses that subtle something which impels persons to go on in the ordinary currents; specifically, he loses the conviction that the usual motives & pursuits of life are more than empty illusions or trifles. Now this is not "madness"--I am sick of hearing fools & superficial criticks prate about "Hamlet's madness". It is really a distressing glimpse of absolute truth. But in effect, it approximates mental derangement. Reason is unimpaired, but Hamlet no longer sees any occasion for its use. He perceives the objects & events about him, & their relation to each other & to himself, as clearly as before; but his new estimate of their importance, and his lack of any aim or desire to pursue an ordinary course amongst them, impart to his point of view such a contemptuous, ironical singularity that he may well be thought a madman by mistake. He sums up this position himself when he says:

"How weary, stale, flat, & unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world

Fie on't! ah, Fie! 'tis an unweeded garden

That grows to seed. Things rank & gross in Nature

Possess it merely."

- H. P. Lovecraft to Alfred Galpin, 14 Nov 1918, Letters to Alfred Galpin 48-49


Friday, September 30, 2016

Eros in Orbit

Eros in Orbit
Bobby Derie

In space, everyone can hear you fuck. The rhythmic thumping of ass against bulkhead reverberates down the cramped corridors and invades the dreams of the poor bastards strapped in and trying to sleep. I remember my first wet dream in orbit, six weeks in on an eighteen-month tour, globules of seminal fluid orbiting listlessly in zero g. Jimmy glomped them up in front of me, just to freak out the new kid.

Privacy is nonexistent; we can't afford the space, but company policy requires breaks. All work and no play inside a sealed box you can't get out of leads to space psychosis. Most everyone adapts or snaps on their first tour. The freaks are the ones that like it. This was my third tour, so I must be a freak.

Bondage types are in luck, strapping yourself to the bulkhead and each other is basically the only way to retain contact without flying apart. No one wants to die in space because they came so hard they cracked their skull on a bulkhead. When astronauts talk about safe sex, they mean helmets and joint protection, velcro straps and fungicidal sprays to hold off yeast infections. Condoms and dental dams? Not while they're still paying by the gram to get anything into orbit.

Like I said, I was a freak. Third tour on Gamma Nine, elliptical orbit science & technology station. Little bit of manufacturing, but mostly we spend our shifts down at the test station, doing trial runs of programs for other corporations. See what works, record the results, send it back to the client. Not cutting edge, but most of the cutting edge stuff is in corporate-sponsored university labs. This was lab practicum, actually getting shit done. Seeing what works with equipment a generation or three behind the state-of-the-art. Upgrades are expensive when you have to spend a hundred kilograms of rocket propellant to get one kilogram of stuff up into the sky.

The tour had just started, and I was still feeling out the crew, but hadn't made any moves yet. So I was jacking it into the vacuum toilet, letting the gentle suction bring me to full erection when I felt a hand grab the same wall strap I was hanging onto.

"Hey," a female voice breathed into my ear, "you holding?" I recognized Domino's voice. That kind of British accent you get from someplace that isn't Britain, but used to be part of the Empire. Hints of French. Creamy chocolate skin spotted with vitiligo. Specialized in troubleshooting, working out why the test programs weren't working and fixing it. Smart woman.

"No strikes," I said, not bothering to stop wanking. "You know company policy. This is my third tour. I think I'm starting to like the cavity searches, but they haven't found anything yet."

A firm hand gripped my wanking forearm. She peeked her head over my shoulder, nuzzling cheek-to-cheek as she started working my arm. I could have let go of my dick at any time, but this was getting interesting.

"We have a dynamics problem," Domino whispered, watching the purple bobbing of the head through the clear plastic tube. "Grant is calling for a ship's bitch."

Ship's bitch is like hazing in the military. You don't talk about it. Broaches the borders of the consensual into some nasty sub-space. When you're the bitch, everyone takes a turn on you - and you have to ask for it. Sometimes, it brings a crew closer together. Like bonobos. Freedom to express sexual desires, lowers stress, repairs relationships. It's hard to scream at the person that just gave you oral sex with a finger in your ass. Not everybody likes that sense of surrender. Not everybody cares what the bitch thinks. That's when dynamics get toxic.

Grant was a program manager. Steroid-maxed muscles when back in Earth-gravity, to help combat zero-g loss of muscle-mass. It was like being caged with a gorilla that could tear you to pieces at his leisure. One with a micropenis, steroid-shrunken balls, a Napoleon complex, and the authority to assign you to shit details and trash your rating. If he didn't get the job done, the company wouldn't put up with it.

Her tongue flicked my ear, and her hand began to speed up.

"Is Grant volunteering?"

"Wants to volunteer someone."

"You or me?"

"Does it matter?" she whispered, voice breathy. I felt her suit rub up against me, and wondered how much she was getting off on this.

She bit my earlobe, and that set me over the edge. I exploded, vacuum sucking away all the mess. Domino released me and held me steady as I re-secured my package. The worksuit flaps let you do it one-handed, but it can be a performance in itself for the appropriate audience. Domino seemed appreciative, but I couldn't really read her half-smile.

"I'm not holding. So Grant's been making eyes? Saying things?" That coffee-and-cream head nodded.

"Grant's pent up. Needs to chill out before he blows up at somebody. I need someone I can trust to watch my ass."

"And what an ass..." She gave me a look that made me shiver with...anticipation. "I'm a cheap date, and I appreciate the hand you gave me back there, but this is about more than not wanting to throw him a pity fuck, right?"

She looked guilty, and released one hand from the bulkhead to tap her ear twice. I nodded and strapped my boots to the deck with velcro. Hand's free, facing each other, we could talk in sign language without any corporate bugs listening in and recording our conversation.

 <<I hacked his porn. Erotic fiction. Crew names and faces. Nasty shit. He's off his meds.>>

"So, how 'bout a date?" I said to cover the silence. <<No narcotics.>> I signed back. Tapped my head a couple times to show I was thinking. <<I can score some antipsychotics.>>

"I could be persuaded. What did you have in mind?" Her eyes sprawled wide, showing all the pretty whites. <<How much?>>

"Dinner. A little tossed salad, maybe. They just got in this new mint jelly I've been wanting to try." I smiled. <<Don't worry about it. We'll work something out.>>

She grinned. "I'd like that."


Friday, September 23, 2016

Unfinished Things

Unfinished Things
Bobby Derie

The pen scratched against the paper, like something from outside trying to get out. Behind the pen, the man who followed its curves and loops was not particularly gaunt or harried in appearance, aside from a tiredness about the eyes and a pouch about the belly and jowls that spoke of too little exercise. Not unkindly, the attendant turned up the light so they both could see.

"What are you writing tonight?" The attendant wore a perpetual dreamy smile.

"Fragments. Half-visions that float past my third eye, programs already in progress." The pen-holder hardly gave him a glance.

"Do you mind if I see?" It was their little ritual.

"Not at all." He pushed a small stack of papers towards him. Putting on his own glasses, and turning towards the lamp, the attendant read.


It was hours before titrise, and the titcats stalked the base of the Grand Teton, seeking the titmice that nestled against the warm flesh...


The goddess moved, a stone skipping across the surface of the world. Her presence rippled throughout the city. Women found themselves eyeing knives and scissors; the exhausted eyes of newborn mothers grew bright as the babies wailed once and calmed themselves; at a thousand urinals, men felt their piss run cold.

The witch stood unmoved as she approached. "I will not bow," she spoke as one might speak to the wind and the moon, the tides and the forest, "Not even to you."

The goddess smiled. "Good."


"Zombies," she said, "are different, all different. You can hear the difference. The flat-footed stompers, the shuffling shamblers that drag along the ground, the clackers that snap and chew at the air until their teeth chip and break, the wheezers and huffers who puff and pull air out of their lungs spasmodically, though they have no need to breath, the mumblers whose misfiring neurons endlessly repeat snippets of speech, over and over... the scramblers who crawl, pulled along by their fingers, nails scratching at the ground until they snap off, then the soft pads of the fingers worn down, until bone scrapes on wood and cement and stone..."


"They took my sense of humor. Cut it out of my brain. Told me it would make me a better soldier. Saw my friends die, my family die. For what? Now, I only have one thing left to live for: revenge. On those who did that to me. My last friend, I told him what I planned. He smiled and said it was a killing joke. I didn't get it. That smile still haunts me, even after I closed his eyes. I don't get it. I can't get it. For that, they're all going die. Every last one of those motherfucking clowns. The only thing is...they'll have the last laugh. Because I can't."


The knife kissed the back of her neck. "Your mother told you to beware the man with scars," the voice was like an oboe with a broken reed, "but not all scars on the outside."


A huge fist clamped down over her own. It was warm but firm, and the edges of the coin bit into her palm.

"Young lady," he said. "That money is not for spending."


"Would not a necromancer forego the expensive of a craftsman and simply...obtain the materials they need more directly?"

The man titled his cobwebbed hat at his guest, lost in thought. Then he said, in a distinct voice: "A necromancer might," he paused to let the echoes of the crypt die out. "But a gentleman never would."


The attendant set the pages down. "A flare for the dramatic, as always. You know, some of these could be parts of the same story."

"They are not. They aren't anything. Snippets, pieces without a larger whole." There was a tired bitterness in his words.

"I might like to read the story, if you put them all together. You like putting words in people's mouths, to describe their actions without assigning motive. Leaving all that work up to the reader." The attendant offered. "It might help you focus your creative energies, to create the necessary bridges between individual scenes, pieces..."

The pen stopped scratching. "You don't understand. I can't."

"Now that," the attendant said, as he shuffled the papers and got up to leave. "I do not believe."


Friday, September 16, 2016

How Oman Won His Sword

How Oman Won His Sword
Bobby Derie

"It was the end without end. The echoes of the last calamity had scarce faded. New towns grew, quarrying old cities. Dust covered the old roads, and new tracks were laid. There was harmony, except when there wasn't."

The skald triggered a tune, the synthesized pop blaring tinnily from his instrument. A pair of boots stopped in front of him: hard leather showing much use, yet trimmed with fair.

"Ho there, friend," the voice boomed from above the boots. "What tale is this you sing?"

"I sing of How Oman Won His Sword," the skald wrapped his instrument, a pulse of bass rippling through the pavement. A clink sounded in his head, as obols were deposited in his account.

"Sing it then," the boots stood impatient to listen.


Ozuun squatted on either side of a delta, a town built on pilings above a shadowed, ever-sifting swamp that was drowned and exposed with the tides. The fleet of Ozuun set out to mind their patches that floated upon the waves, and the alewives rendered beer from starchy seaweeds.

Here was a whoreson, whose mother would not let him take her name, and left him with the prostitute that sired him to raise. Oman played in the under-Ozuun, the shadowed muck beneath the walks, where all that could not be witnessed was witnessed. The Night-Market rested there in wooden hulls that would rise once more with the tides, scavengers and night-soil collectors sifted through the trash that citizens absently threw into the empty abysses that served in place of streets, thieves cut their way into houses, drugs were brewed, sighs of passion were given lustily as bleached buttocks bounced against tanned thighs.

To Oman, these were as the playthings of his childhood. He had knelt before the fat merchants, and sucked their toes as they probed; cut purses from sleeping sailors, tickled the sons and daughters of alewives, picked through rubbish for salable treasures.

Now some say there was war in the North, that the merchant-soldiers wished to merge with Ozuun; others claim there was a fey child, intersex, that Oman wished to rescue from a high tower, where they were courted; yet the Master Ricco...


"Ho friend, what Master is this?"

"Ricco was Master of Terath on the Hud, and crossed the river to brave the libraries there, and was indoctrinated after many struggles. His dissertation was written in the blood of a scholarly foe."

"And you knew this Ricco?"

"Master Ricco was my own guide on indoctrination, though I fell lame before the final trials," his instrument gave off a muted sad melody, and he plucked idly at the humming strings.

"Enough, friend, I did not wish to reopen old wounds. Tell us more of Oman, and how he won his sword..."


Friday, September 9, 2016

The Memory of the Snake

The Memory of the Snake
Bobby Derie

Most cultists run a tight budget.

Jack stepped under the police tape, and moved inside, scanning the double-wide. "Wood" veneer and fiberglass, every surface scratched and dented. Cheap plates and chipped glasses piled up in the sink, the gentle pervading odor of stale shit from the toilet. Against one wall, a sort of cage made from a broken playpen, scattered pieces of brightly-colored trucks; crayon-drawings of stick figures in red, orange, and green; waxy blobs melted into the cheap carpet.

The shrine was in the bedroom. The altar was a formica tabletop, nailed to the headboard. Incense sticks and stubbed-out cigarettes stuck out of dozens of little hand-made ceramic pots, on every flat surface, the walls and ceiling were smoke-stained, and almost covered up the stench of raw sex from the bed sheets. The floor and bed weren't so much sticky as glazed, and molding in spots. Beneath the off-white splatter of the altar he could see a line of symbols, marked right around the edge of the altar in sharpie.

Jack couldn't see the offering, but he could smell the jizz - and all smell is particulate. The though made him angry. He pulled out an evidence bag, carefully opened it, and drew out the .38 with the runes carved into the side. Cocked the hammer with an audible click.

"I'm going to count to three." He aimed at the center of the bed. "Then I'm going to start firing."

Above the altar, a hazy presence coalesced. Little more than a torso and arms, an apparition that just seemed to hang in the hazy air; dust particles in the loose shape of a man. Meth-head skinny, homemade ballpoint tattoos from knuckles to elbows, like coiling multiheaded serpents. Haunted eyes with permanent shadows under them. Bad teeth, peeling skin on the shoulders. Jack could just about recognize the image of the corpse on the slab.

My people remember the snake.

"Don't get me fucking started." Jack muttered. "Snake-handler offshoots that tapped into the wrong current, and it got you in the end. What did she want?"

A baby. So bad. What I couldn't give her. The doctor said, she was too fucked up inside, after the last time. But Papa Yig...we knew the stories...the Children of Yig...he would come for them...

"Oh shit." Jack didn't blink, but the apparition was gaining more focus and detail. Looked younger than he'd thought at first. "Did she know what she was in for?"

She was kinda into it.

"Wonderful. How many tries did it take?"

We had to find it first...that was the hard part. They're all his children, but he has to be there, you know? Or close.

"Snake nest, got it. So that scene at the reptile zoo?"

Yeah, that was us. I don't know what went wrong.

"Nothing, dumbass. It actually worked. You know the end of the story, right? What happened to her husband?"

"Well, that's why what's left of you is on a slab in the morgue. Where is she?"

 If it worked...the baby...she'd be making a nest, I think.

Jack put three bullets through the altar, and dropped the gun back in the evidence bag. The specter ceased almost immediately, dust particles floating back in their normal patterns.

"Fucking snake cultists."