The Grimscribe’s Puppets
Joseph S. Pulver Sr.
Oubliette by Gemma Files
Survived attempts on her own life before new drugs, therapy, advices, and a new home Shumate House with 24hr care and security, apartment 5.
27 years old.
Writing in a therapy blog post and dream diary, her dreams, her treatments and state of mind.
The darkness and dealing within the whirlwind of her mind a narrative compelling you with transcripts, case notes, emails and reports with a few minutes interloping the days of Thordis Hendricks.
There are distressing things and some melancholy contained within, a compelling ugliness that borders on some realities that do transpire upon this earth.
There is a war within the war, there is a beauty in the journey, the transpiring, surviving, the courage, and the ways the tale is communicated with words and the symmetry of them and the choice, the was, is, and is not, a beauty, a terrible beauty.
Reader invited to a crucible of existence with Thordis and empathically reading along and descending into something with an equilibrium under duress.
Some light too in here.
Make sure have a laugh, watch comedy, after this if reading during pandemic.
Friday 29th January 2020 I was reading a few mysteries and thrillers that were not catching me and compelling me, then thought to try out another short tale so the evening did not end on a slump. Lately I had been on a great ride of reads in a row mostly short stories that had been good, and this one not long finishing a new collection of hers In That Endlessness, Our End, Gemma Files did it again.
I will be reading the collections these stories are in with my other project Tales Old and New, where I was reading certain authors and their tribute collections.
I will be starting again with no false starts in February, one hopes, with Thomas Ligotti and short story tributes and influenced authors works.
So there will be many things In February to look out for including a few small press purchases I want to cover. Reviews and maybe connected interviews with some authors in the collections.
“Like I’d been born and almost died inside a prison cell, thinking that tiny bit of sky I could see through the window was the wide world, and me outside in it, walking, talking, laughing, living. Until that sky itself became a horror too, blue just a thin lid over black, gravity always in danger of failing before the upwards rush and airless fall into deep space—and it was that fear, that awful lurch, which wrenched me back in and reframed my understanding. Showed me the grave I’d all this time been trapped by, and began to push its walls in on top of me.
I feel better these days, of course, though not by much. But this, what we’re doing right now…this is supposed to help.”
“Oubliette, jaunty oubliette. And this place, Apartment Five, Shumate House—just a more comfortable version of the same? A place to be parked out of sight, out of mind, ‘til I’m all safely re-calibrated and refurbished…ready to take my place in the world as it is, rather than the world as I thought it was? Ready for public consumption?”
“How much, exactly, is a life without extremes worth, when all’s said and done? No depression, no joy. Just grey, marching grey, simplest of all possible forward motions at barely impulse speed, like algae. Existing, not living.”
edited by by Mike Davis
Grave Goods by Gemma Files
A pit with secrets and a group of women in the course of uncovering the treasure the grave goods within.
Three skeletons they find with trauma to the faces pointing to some past violent incident.
The further they go more becomes uncovered, the tale takes a turn in the Lovecraftian vein of things.
Aretha hits deep and it will hurt.
“..lightly incised with what look like ancestral petroglyphs similar to those found on Qajartalik Island, in the Arctic.”
“Put the pieces back together, fit them against each other chip by chip and line by line, and they start to sing. There’s a sort of tone a skeleton gives off; Aretha Howson can feel it more than hear it, like it’s tuned to some frequency she can’t quite register. It resonates through her in layers: skin, muscle, cartilage, bone. It whispers in her ear at night, secret, liquid. Like blood through a shell.”
“Deep twilight, now, under the trees, overlaid with even deeper silence. Deep enough Aretha can finally start to hear it once more, rising the same way her pain does, threading itself through her system: the song of the bones, set shiver-thrumming in every last wet, cold part of her; that note, that tone, so thin and distinct, a faraway cry drawing ever nearer. Like blood through some fossilized shell.”
A Season in Carcosa
Joseph S. Pulver Sr.
Slick Black Bones and Soft Black Stars
by Gemma Files
Have you heard the story?
You know about The king in Yellow, and what happened to some inhabitants of Carcosa?
Was it a “primary phobia about the sea”?
There is a dig.
Seeking out answers, skeletons laid out, things aligning, connections being made and answers arising.
An inquisitive and visceral compelling constructed work.
Funeral Rock and Carcosa City awaits.
Maybe this tale will have you seek out another, and follow the yellow brick road to The king in Yellow, I am starting the walk.
“You reached the island of Carcosa seven days ago, at 6:35 PM by your watch, only to find what looked like two suns staring down, one centered, the other offset—an upturned pupil, cataract-white, with a faint bluish tinge. It’s an optical illusion, Jutras told you, during your conference-Skype briefing; Everyone sees them. There’s other things, too.
Just…things. It’s not important.”
“Because that’s what’s brought you here, of course—like it always does, no matter where, no matter with who. Because this is your “business”, the reckoning of mortality: to sex bones and extract DNA, to separate violent death covered up from more wholesome detritus, plague-pits or accidents or Acts of God alike, the dreadful human wreckage left behind whenever earth gapes wide, whenever the jungle sneezes up something that makes people cough themselves to death or sweat blood from every pore, whenever the sea rises up and bears away all in its path.”
“The King, Ringo tells you, once ruled in Other Carcosa City, before he was expelled and set adrift. He came from somewhere else entirely, far Away, further than anywhere—came walking through their gates on foot one two-sun day, at suns’-set, and when asked to remove his mask as a gesture of friendship, claimed he didn’t wear one.”
“Now the words spill out in a similar rush, barely interrupted, monologue paced to an adrenaline rush tachycardia beat, so fast it barely seems to be your voice you’re both hearing say these things, with complete declarative confidence—the same authoritarian, spell-casting rhythm which renders truth from lies, makes fiction into fact, simply by stating even the most ridiculous-sounding things out loud.”
“The blue-green, poisonous light of the setting suns behind it twists your stomach. You feel the whole thing pulling, physically, like a hook in the gut: some second force of gravity, pressing you towards the lake and the place you know isn’t there, can’t be there——not because it isn’t real, but because it’s somewhere else. Some utter, alien elsewhere, so far away its light is older than your species.”
About Gemma Files:
Formerly a film critic, journalist, screenwriter and teacher, Gemma Files has been an award-winning horror author since 1999. She has published two collections of short work, two chapbooks of speculative poetry, a Weird Western trilogy, a story-cycle and a stand-alone novel (Experimental Film, which won a Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel and a Sunburst award for Best Adult Novel). She has two new story collections from Trepidatio (Spectral Evidence and Drawn Up From Deep Places), one upcoming from Cemetery Dance (Dark Is Better), and a new poetry collection from Aqueduct Press (Invocabulary).
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