Marisa Cleveland is interviewing me at her lovely blog this Friday the 13th
at the haunted jazz club, Meilori's. Don't miss it!
That interview is done so what am I still doing sitting at Meilori's at this empty table?
I invited two fellow buccaneers to be interviewed here. Neither lady has shown up.
A sonorous voice in a New England accent said, "I, too, was spurned by the fairer sex, Roland."
I looked up to see the gaunt, hollow-eyed form of H P Lovecraft and smiled sadly, "There was one for you."
"And for you as well."
I shrugged, "Perhaps our hearts had room for only one love."
He nodded glumly and sat down opposite me. "I will allow you to interview me, Roland."
I looked past him to the club beyond his body. Only an endless array of tables whose candles pushed back the darkness only a little.
In this dark cavern of a saloon, things vast, blind, and monstrous took shape in the bronze-hued mists that billowed all through the place.
They lumbered without notice of us. They became almost solid, fuzzed, then drifted apart only to re-form feet from where they had been.
Past them was the entrance where customers entered and placed silver coins in the eyes of the polished skull in the center of a black marble table: a Friday the 13th tradition.
"It is my skull, Roland."
I said, "I hope you don't mind that I put in no coins."
"You placed three polished stones beside my skull. Why?"
"The Lakota paid tribute to forgotten gods by placing a pebble onto a pile of stones each time they used an ancient trail.
They did this to ensure that even though these gods may be forgotten, they would still be honored in some small way.
As the piles of stones grew, they eventually served the trail’s users as a system of 'road signs' used to navigate by and to give directions to other travelers."
I shrugged. "The Great Mystery, or Elohim as the White Man calls Him, has become largely forgotten these days. The stones are my prayer in stone that the travelers here find their way back to Him."
Lovecraft nodded seeing more than his tongue said. "Ask me a question for this lost interview, Roland."
"Why did you come here tonight, sir?"
He closed those haunted eyes. "I came because of my lost childhood :
There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth;
For when as children we learn and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts,
and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life.
But some of us awake in the night
with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens,
of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas,
of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone,
and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests;
and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates
into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy."
I grimaced. Like much of his writing, I would have to ponder his answer later to make sense of it. I asked him another question.
"Did you pick your genre, or did it pick you, sir?"
He opened his eyes, no longer seeing me.
"My reason for writing stories
is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly the
fragmentary impressions of wonder
which are conveyed to me by certain
ideas and images encountered in art and literature.
I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best -
one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being
to achieve the illusion
of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations
of time, space, and natural law which forever
and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces
beyond the radius of our sight and analysis.
These stories frequently emphasise the element of horror because fear is our deepest and strongest emotion,
and the one which best lends itself to the creation of Nature-defying illusions.
Horror and the unknown or the strange are always closely connected,
so that it is hard to create a convincing picture of shattered natural law
or cosmic alienage or "outsideness"
without laying stress on the emotion of fear."
He paused and said in tones like the tolling of ghost bells in ruined temples.
"I fear for you, Roland."
Lovecraft shivered, "Tell your readers that if by chance they pray, pray for you."
"W-Why for me?"
He intoned, "For what both the Druid priests and the Louisiana shamans
had chanted to their kindred idols.
It was something very like this:
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." ...
"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
He drew back his lips, making his face look eerily like his skull on the black marble table. "In 2012, the cosmic conjunctions allign.
And dread Cthulhu rises,
rises from the dark swamp called Contraband --
the swamp but miles from your dwelling, Roland.
I hear the portents even now in the blackness of Meilori's.
The moon is dark, and the spirits dance in the night;
there is terror in the sky, for upon the moon hath sunk an eclipse
foretold in no books of men or of earth's myths.
I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror,
and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me.
So should your readers have breath left over from their prayers for you, Roland --
ask them to sing a canticle for me."
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