Untitled Lovecraftianesque tale

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Untitled Lovecraftianesque tale Empty Untitled Lovecraftianesque tale

Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:54 am


Prologue


When his eyes opened and the momentary bleariness in them cleared he realised he was staring upwards at  deep turbulent dark clouds in a thick misty evening sky, and so therefore he reasoned he had to be lying upon his back. But it was accompanied by a second less rational chain of thought, yet no less certain, that of where he must be.

With a chill that ran back and forth throughout his body causing his hands to begin to shake uncontrollably in fear of a now perceived threat, he knew with certainty they had put him upon the island.

With all the courage he could muster he scrambled upwards to his unsteady feet confirming his fears. He spun around staring off into the evening where thickening mists hung and threw long tendrels and groping fingers of fog across the darkening loch. Shoreside it lay so thick as to obscure the beach of stone, boulder and rock which he knew lay not two hundred metres away from the islands western edge.

The island was very small, more an islet, the peak of some long forgotten sunken hill swallowed up in ancient times by the sea. It contained only scrub grass, heathers, the nests of seabirds and from where he now stood, three quarters of the way up a purple heathered slope that led to the islands centre, it was possible during the day to see all sides of it at once with ease. Now however the rolling mists obscured his view and allied itself with the failing evening light to deny his vision, or any knowledge of  if the thin causeway, the land bridge that linked island to land at low tide was still there or submerged already far below the dark clear water trapping him here.

Directly behind him, outlined starkly and in silhoutte against the lighter blue of the night sky stood the island's solitary building, built right upon the slopes crest. One whose original ancient uses could only be guessed at, but which had borne a more recent history as a Christian Church - imposing its One God upon the forgotten sacreds of the Ancients. But finally even it too had been abandoned to the elements, shorn of congregation with dwindling local populations and fortunes. As he stared at it his stomach tightened into a knot of increased dread when a flickering red light flared up within it; illuminating its arched doorway into a red gaping maw that beckoned him towards it. And within the dancing light black shadows were cast upon the interior walls which writhed, twisted and squirmed. And though he could see nought of what cast the shadows his instinctive repulsion to the writhing shapes informed him that what must cast them were equally vile as their outlines.

Despite this he took a few involuntary, hesitiant steps up the slope towards the red doorway moving against his will as if a puppet moved by invisible strings. But luck was with him as he stumbled on the wirey branches of the thick purple heather, it probably saved him as it broke his gaze upon the building and the hidden horrors that beckoned  him and called to him from within its walls.

He gasped as he struck the ground, the air knocked from him, arms outstreched, but he pulled himself immediatly back up knowing his only chance now was to get off this island as quick as may be. He turned from the red light without letting his eyes fall upon it and put from his mind the shadowplay of horrors, heralds of what was yet to come if he did not find a way of escape.

He headed down the slope of purple from which, as he stumbled through it, clouds of tiny biting insects were disturbed and swarmed upwards. They homed in on the carbon dioxide being expelled at force from his heaving lungs, then expelled with equal force by his fearful trembling mouth into the cold air, and so finding him the tiny biting things landed on every exposed piece of skin and crept into his clothing and swarmed among his hair.

Half walking, half running in a fear induced craze that was always on the verge of a fall and flailing at his face with one hand at the clouds of irritating insect specs upon him, now in such numbers as to create swarming black patches upon his skin that bit constently upon him, seeking his blood with such eagerness, as if they too knew it would be the last chance to dine upon him before the inevitable end.

He half fell again with a heaving grunt upon the sharp shingle shore and was met only with the gentle lapping of the water against the rocky shoreline, dark wet slimy boulders bedecked in wet seaweed stood out luminously either side against the deep misty sky.

The air smelt of rotting seaweed, a pungent foul aroma, tainted with a salty tinge. A sharp cold wind bit at his flesh and his body already wracked with shaking fears and imagined coming nightmares now shook too with the gnawing cold. And his heart was equally cold, for the land bridge was gone below a high tide, sunken far below the crests of the small waves which slowly washed back and forth across the loch's barely ruffled surface.

He turned and scrambled and crawled his way up the rocks to his left, their surface wet and slimy with the luminous green seaweed that made him slip and slide and offered little purchase. Gaining the top finally he tried to survey the water, or to see any sign of life upon the shoreline, but the mists wreathed it and the row of small whitewashed  fishing cottages, with their low roofs of turf, were obscured and all was plunged in uncharacteristic darkness. He was going to have to risk swimming, yet that option filled him with yet more terror for it was in water he was most in danger.

His eyes turned downwards them, drawn from obscured shoreline to the water below the rocks base. Beyond the white foam, beneath the clear water he could see the cliffface continuing downwards, falling away and becoming lost in the greater darkness of the loch's mighty depths.

And it was this darkness of the depths which seemed to him as he watched to solidify, to form before him with the wider darkness in the waters beyond the island, to take on wholeness and shape. A darkness whose tendrils stretched out beneath the waves like searching tentacles. Finding other patches of darkness to merge and absorb into its own greater darkness. He got the sense then this dark mass was far, far away, and vaster than he could comprehend. And with a piercing in his heart as if of  ice he also knew it was growing, growing because it was moving upwards from the vast deep, ever closer towards him.

As it rose a great white eye, with a dark slit pupil into oblivion opened up, distorted by the distance and the waves yet surely massive and glaring. It penetrated him, rooted him to the spot. And then it was it seemed all eyes, all over its immense unfathomable size and in all shapes and sizes. The sea was filled with watching eyes. Yet they all had one thing in common, they were all fixed in that same unrelenting penetrating fashion as predator upon prey, fixed upon him. Terror seized him wholy then.

Turning in pure instinct he fled back towards the islands centre and the lone crumbling building with its  flickering flame and shadows. But his mind, torn as it was by growing horrors was not going to flee from one terror straight into the arms of another, and instead he ran stumbling and blindly around the buildings parameter and collapsed after a short time of running upon the heather bed that covered the slopes leading down to a wide shingle beach on the seaward facing side. White wild flowers, their faces closed and turned away from him nodded in a gentle sea breeze that wafted thin strands of mist about him and over the waters surface.

There he lay and panted in great gulping heaving sobs until more than anything the growing biting cold brought him back to his senses and the worry of his circumstances returned.

He hauled himself up onto one knee, shivering now from his predicament as much as from the climate and failing day, when he heard suddenly an unexpected sound. A curious sound to hear out here beside the lapping shore.

It was the distant galloping of hooves, a horse's hooves. Rythmic, some way away yet ever approaching.

He felt drawn towards the sound, mesmorized by its drumming beat as it gradually grew louder, and soon he realised he was upon the shingle beach and that it was from the water the sound was impossibly coming.

He could hear it now distinctly and that the horse was not ony still some way off, but that it was far below him, as if it ran still upon far sunken lands the sea had long since claimed. And memory forgotten.

Louder and louder the hoof beats drummed and he did nothing but stand and sway in time to them as if entranced, only too late did he come back to his senses and wrench back some semblance of control. When the hoof beats had become a near deafening hammering he threw himself  backwards. Avoiding by doing so being crushed beneath the immense hooves of the creature that leapt from admidst a rising wave and fountain of frothy white water upon the shore.

It landed heavily scattering the shingle beneath its weight. He tried to crawl backwards from it as it heaved and sweated foully over him. His reaction to it was purely physical, a natural repulsion and dread and need to escape, yet he felt held. His movements seemed dream-like now, slow and heavy and needed the greatest effort to achieve the smallest result and he soon gave up the struggle as his eye was drawn, against all attempts to fight the urge, inexorably to the abhorrant sight before him.

What stood there was an immense horse, in shape, for it could be no living horse. It had no skin and was all exposed bone, muscle that constantly flexed and moved insidiously and exposed organs that pumped and bellowed. Droplets of blood fell from its heaving carcass as thick as sweat from a thoroughbred after a winning race. Its eyes were pitch black like a sharks and conveyed a similar predatory uncaring as it stared down at him.

Even more horribly upon its back sat a rider, if such it could be called for it flopped backwards and forwards as if a dead thing and was only prevented from falling from its mount by the fact that it, skinless as its steed, was interwined with it by muscle and tendon into one foul beast. And no mouth or nostrels could he see, for the riders orifices it seemed had been sealed up, the muscles knitted and grown together. All except his eyes. For they were open wide and staring,  having no eyelids to blink with or protect them. And with shock he realised they were clear and accutely aware. Alive in their hell. And the look that was within those eyes was one of endless torment and pain inflicted without repreive or mercy. They radiated the stark madness to be found only in the combination of uttermost agony and uttermost horror without end.

The skinless horse threw back its head and let out a great snort and neigh, a black fume emitted from its bony white nostrels. He covered his ears at the sound which seemed to scrape across his mind and distrupt all thought and turn all senses to scrambling fear.

But even as his mind recoiled from the beastly presence, as he watched fearstruck it seemed the tendons and muscles that connected rider and mount came undone in great sprays of blood that stained the smooth worn stones of the beach. The rider fell unceremonously then from the creatures foul back and landed heavily upon the hard packed shore in a pool of growing congealed blood.

And for a moment their eyes meet again only the look within the riders eyes was now no longer one of pain but of a deep pity and sorrow, pity and sorrow for him he realised. With great intensity they seemed to cry out directly to him, “I am so sorry for what is to come.”

And then a  twisting mist rising from between the shingle of the beach itself engulfed the rider and hissed and fizzled and it seemed the body slowly turned and dissovled before his eyes into frothing waves, then to falling water and then it was gone, draining and seeping harmlessly away among the shingle, returning to the sea.

He was alone now with the beast.

The horse reared and turned its great hideous head of flesh down towards him and from its gaping nostrils the black fog poured out until it engulfed his entire body.

He smelt an acidic sharp smell as the fog seemed to dissolve his clothing then smother his body. It seemed to turn from smoke to liquid as it met his flesh, coating his exposed skin where it seemed to burn with an intense heat and he writhed upon the hard shore and cried out. Staring down at himself in horror he saw that it was forming a coating like a thick oil which clung fast to him, squeezed him until he felt and heard ribs begin to crack and break. He screamed again his voice louder and clear ringing out carried far over the water, and surely he thought in one last desperate hope heard by someone. It would easily reach the row of fishing cottages so close by. And none hearing his cries could mistake their desperation or the unimaginable terror with which they resounded.

But soon he could not even cry out in his pain for the oil was covering his face and head too, burning off his hair which stank repusively in the clear sea air, and he had to close his mouth to prevent it flooding inside. And then the oil hardened.

Leaning down to his now cocooned body the horse snorted again and now a thick grey mist emitted from the cavernous bone holes of its nostrels, and the hardened oil coming into contact with it broke and peeled and fell away from his body in great sheets, taking his skin with it.

He was skinned neatly as if he had been a fruit peeled and the shock and pain of it happening was only as terrible as the realisation he could not pass out, could not escape the intolerable levels of agony with sweet unconciousness. Every nerve was exposed in a tearing searing pain, exposed to the elements and the hard shore and his tormented mind exposed to the presence of the evil that had befallen him and stood over him. And just when it seemed the nightmare could get no worse he felt the muscles of his mouth and over his nostrils begin to knit and pull together, closing up forever.

His screams, which had been all but continous in his agony were muffled now, his mouth was held shut fast. His cries, though the muscles spasmed in instinctive effort to articulate them, were silenced. He could not breath and to the unbearable pain of his skinned body came the burning agony of suffocation. Involuntarily he tried to gasp for air but  the way was sealed, and his chest, its muscles exposed in their workings heaved in convulsions in the attempt. And it would never end for when he should be long dead and his body no longer seemed to draw breath, or even have need of it, still he lived and was forced to endure it and still it burned and still the needfor air consumed his every desire. He would be forever tormented, seeking to sate the burning of his lungs with air that would never again come.

The stinking heaving horse dropped to its front knees beside him, then down upon its side, its back   glistening over exposed spine. He felt his legs being drawn towards it by threads and tendrels of muscle that sprouted from the horses back like fungus upon a corpse. They seized him and drew him towards it, increasing, though it seemed not possible to do so, the pain he felt as he was dragged upon the rocky shore until he was half upon its back, half a part of its back. Then the horse stumbled awkwardly back to four legs lifting him with it atop it as the process of becoming one completed.

He was fused now by the agonised muscles of his legs to the flesh of the beast and his eyes, all that was recognisably left of his bloodied skinless body, showed now the full pains of his predecessor. And the only escape from it was to let his mind break, to flee from it in the sanctity of outright madness. If his stitched up mouth could have screamed insanely and revelled in the terror of his madness, it would have done so.

And the skinless horse, black fumes still curling from its nostrils turned back to the sea, its new rider lolled seemingly dead in appearence upon its back.

It walked into the waves, seemingly not bothered by their presence, taking the roads that ran beneath, across the sunken lands of ancient times on long forgotten paths through forests distant now to mortal memories, until the waves frothed about the riders head. Then together they disappeared completely into the darkness beneath the night tossed waves and the sound of its galloping hooves slowly faded with distance, space and time.

A gentle wind blew and teased at the mists and chased them across the purple heather of the island and the red flickering light in the lone building shrieked and went out.

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Post by halfwise Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:09 am

I thought the midges were bad enough.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:12 am

{{ Yeah there are some horrific beasties in our myths and legends! Laughing Unfortunatly the midgies are a real world terror Mad }}

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:42 am

{{ Is there any appetite for more of this before I try to beat the next part into a readable state, or has part 1 put everyone off already! }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd Mon Aug 31, 2020 6:29 pm

It is here! cheers

I'd like more. Smile

Edit: I got around to reading all of it after work.

It has good descriptions. The natural surroundings, and the horse-and-rider, are coloured with some nice turns-of-phrase. I enjoy when islands are described well in fiction.
It also shows itself as an early draft though. It needs editing, especially the first half. There are some clumsy phrases and some points of grammar could use correcting.

Secondly, I think the reader comes away from this tale with too many questions: who is the man? Who has put him on the island? Who is inside the old church? Are the eyes in the water related to the horse? This story is, so far, like the tale-end of a Lovecraftian work. It contains the horrible revelations that we expect, but it is like a helping of dessert without the meal: it needs some context, otherwise there is no time for things to build as they should. There is an aimlessness to the man's flights of horror that also needs answering: he needs a goal, or he is only half a character.

Speaking of the horrible revelations, I thought that the horse-and-rider was very good. Did you come up with that idea, or is it taken from somewhere? Riding up out of the sea like that is excellent: just clumsy enough to evoke old-fashioned horror (how can one hear hoofbeats from under-water?), but unsettling enough to affect the modern reader (the specter from the dark water!). It contains, of course, much more violence and body-horror than we are exposed to in Lovecraft, but that is why you have used "-esque" in the untitle.

Excuse my criticisms, if they were unwanted. Razz

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I would not have believed them
though a hundred had said it
and a thousand tongues had told
that I would sink to these ways
that I would fall on these days--
the days I have fallen on
the ways I have sunk into.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:59 pm

{{ Criticisms are never unwanted where they are constructive Forest. The writing style is in part meant to evoke older Lovecraftian style, of over flowery and adjective laden prose. But it does need some tidying.
This set up and character is just that- its the prologue- Hitchcock said something along the lines of 'if you have 2 peole talking at a table its a drama, if you pan the camera down to reveal a ticking bomb under the table they dont know about you have tension and a thriller.'
I thought to use the prologue to show the bomb, so its more about the bomb than the man so to speak. And once into chapter 1 it introduces the main character, who is oblivous to the bomb awaiting, which the reader knows the full horror of already, and to play off tension created from that later.
Other questions about the 'church' the thinginthe water, where the horse comes from and goes to, why someone was put on the island for it, are all coming in the story. So they are all good questions for the reader to have going ahead, as they will all be answered.

The horse and its rider is a real Scotttish water demon, the Nuckelavee, its black smoke that comes fomr its nostrils can kill and wipe ut fields of crops. My own addition was the idea it can swap rider, and Ive merged it with Lovecraftian notoins of lost ancient cities of the Old Gods beneath the waves. }}


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Compiled and annotated by Eldorion.


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Post by Forest Shepherd Sun Sep 06, 2020 2:34 am

Ah cool, thanks for the explanations. What a strange monster!

_________________
When I was younger
I would not have believed them
though a hundred had said it
and a thousand tongues had told
that I would sink to these ways
that I would fall on these days--
the days I have fallen on
the ways I have sunk into.

-Instructions and a Warning, The Kalevala
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Post by halfwise Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:49 pm

My thoughts aligned with Forest's, but I was having problems articulating them clearly so didn't write anything.  I know on first reading it felt rushed, then I read it again and it didn't feel so rushed but now I realize the reason it felt rushed was the lack of explanation and dots being connected.  How does the sea monster fit in with the horse monster?  What's the eery building got to do with any of it?  Too many impressions with not enough clear story to tie them together. I'd maybe chop out the sea monster altogether, and make some more obvious link between the mansion and the monster.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:58 pm

{{ The structure is nicked essentally from Doctor Who- its a classic cold opening. You know the sort, it starts with someone you dont know, or a group of someones, something mysterious/alien/spooky/horrible happens involving some unexplained things/people - monster is either revealed or hinted at- title music then your on the TARDIS with Doctor and companion oblivious to it all till the two intersect.
Flatline is good example cold opening episode- it opens in a seemingly normal flat somewhere with scared man on the phone to somoene asking for help, he thinks something is there with him, and then as he panicks theres a sound, and just the voice on the end asking if he is ok. But he has seemingly vanished, leaving just a phone hanging on a cord, as the camera pans towards a weird pattern on the wall, that once the angles align reveal themsleves to be the distorted image of the man screaming.
We never find out who the man is, what his name was, why he was scared, how he knew or discovered the monster, or who he was on the phone to, its not the point of the set up, the point is to set up the threat before the main characters know it exists. To reveal it to the audience first. It sets the stakes when your characters arrive oblivious to it but in the same place. You get tension between what the audience knows and what the characters don't.
But it does raise other questions, what was making him scared, how did he end up embedded in a wall? Why was he put in the wall? Who put him there? What was the purpose of any of it? And these are answered in the episode.
Same idea I was going for here. In my case you get stuff that won't and doesnt need answeredfor same reasons as above- such as information about the man, but other questions raised, about the sea monsters, the building, what its used for are. }}

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Post by halfwise Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:32 pm

Ah, the difference is in Dr Who you know more is coming. Or the first chapter of a book. In this case the reader doesn't know more story is coming. Makes a big difference.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:17 pm

{{ Its titled Prologue! Mad Does kind of hint its only an opening and that there is more to come, if it was a book you bought you wouldnt expect every page after the prologue to be blank!. Mad Although I wonder if Odo and Archet Bugle have thought of that as a way to save on ink costs!}}

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Post by halfwise Wed Sep 09, 2020 3:50 pm

You need to avail yourself of the bold lettering for titles. How are we supposed to know to pay attention to it otherwise?

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Post by Forest Shepherd Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:09 pm

I mean, once the rest of the story begins to be written one could go back to the prologue and clean it up to serve in its role better. Either way I'm looking forward to more. With a movie like The Wicker Man as such a big influence on you Petty I imagine the Scottish setting will work quite well.

Edit: yeah I didn't catch the prologue title either lol

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When I was younger
I would not have believed them
though a hundred had said it
and a thousand tongues had told
that I would sink to these ways
that I would fall on these days--
the days I have fallen on
the ways I have sunk into.

-Instructions and a Warning, The Kalevala
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:31 pm

{{ Americans!! Suppose you'd prefer the title in bloody neon!! Mad Next part will be along in next day or so, just mucking about with it still. }}

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Post by halfwise Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:30 pm

We need neon. Subtlety is not one of our strong points.

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Post by Forest Shepherd Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:41 pm

Scottish! Suppose you'd prefer to complain about how the prologue should break off from the rest of the story and govern itself, but then never actually get around to it!

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Post by Amarië Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:54 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:{{ Americans!! Suppose you'd prefer the title in bloody neon!! Mad (...)}}

That's what I was thinking too. Laughing

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Post by Amarië Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:59 pm

Forest Shepherd wrote:Scottish! Suppose you'd prefer to complain about how the prologue should break off from the rest of the story and govern itself, but then never actually get around to it!

lol!

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:27 pm

{{{ Mad As you know fine well Forest I would prefer to complain about absolutely everything Twisted Evil if we lived in a perfect universe I wouldnt have anything to complain about, but we dont Mad so I do! And seconly, we're working on it! We're just....being canny about it.
And theres also always the actual risk the prologue will govern more than itself too, as author you never know with prologues when they might creep their rotting way back into the narrative later on, late at night, when your backs turned. pale }}

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Post by Mrs Figg Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:37 am

That's a pretty scary story.

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