The fever dreams of Mephisto the Unruly were potent. They worked slowly at first, dragging slow, bright streaks of colour across the stained walls, but once they started to take physical form they would not be restrained.
As Mephisto shivered under the blankets, his temperature achieving untold heights, he watched the drawers of his cabinet slide open and bunches of gaudy flowers blossom from the fresh beds. Swirling smoke dragons coiled around the lampshade in silence but the great white rabbit in the corner said nothing. Occasionally it would doff its hat in a semblance of respect.
Mephisto knew on some level he was sick, but there seemed little point in challenging it. His staff would bring him soup and hot water with chunks of lemon and ginger steeping and that satisfied what little appetite he had. The rabbit in the corner absolutely wasn’t real, he understood that, but it still kept him company.
The candles mix with the floodlights, and down the road she sees the reflections off the tinted masks and plexiglass shields. She knows that only eyes like hers, eyes that are actually here, can catch that fiery gaze of the faceless men – there’s been a media blackout for days, cutting off the world from what is happening tonight. It was standard now, to deny real-time access to events as they unfolded, controlling the story and keeping it theirs. Yet another mask.
On the day Death came calling for her, Antonia Priver had already left. Clothes shopping, as usual. Unfortunately, given the ever-increasing weight of his workload, Death had barely had time to skim through her case notes that morning, let alone analyse her spending habits. He’d clocked her age and address and committed her photo to memory (there’d be hell to pay if he took the wrong client by mistake) but the detailed lists of likes and dislikes had rather fallen by the wayside.
The book was by one Nicholas van Huyn of Hoorn. In the preface he told how, attracted by the work of John Greaves of Merton College, Pyramidographia, he himself visited Egypt, where he became so interested in its wonders that he devoted some years of his life to visiting strange places, and exploring the ruins of many temples and tombs. He had come across many variants of the story of the building of the Pyramids as told by the Arabian historian, Ibn Abd Alhokin, some of which he set down. These I did not stop to read, but went on to the marked pages.
As soon as I began to read these, however, there grew on me some sense of a disturbing influence. Once or twice I looked to see if the Nurse had moved, for there was a feeling as though some one were near me. Nurse Kennedy sat in her place, as steady and alert as ever; and I came back to my book again.
The narrative went on to tell how, after passing for several days through the mountains to the east of Aswan, the explorer came to a certain place. Here I give his own words, simply putting the translation into modern English:
It has been (almost) exactly two months since we opened for submissions. Thanks to everyone that's been sending stories our way. It has been a pleasure getting to read them.
We're delighted to announce the first group of new stories. Over the next few months, we'll be proudly presenting readers with the following terrific tales:
- "I Decided That Things Had Become Too Complicated" by William Curnow*
- "Killing Time" by Jennifer Moore
- "The Choreography of Masks" by David W Pomerico
- "Zombie Hitler vs Neil Armstrong" by Marie Vibbert
- "Dragons of Kraków" by Michal Wojcik
- "Space Opera" by Olivia Wood*
- "Ya-Ya Papaya" by J.Y. Yang*
We'll also continue to publish classic reprints as well, including upcoming stories by Bram Stoker, Algernon Blackwood and C.L. Moore. And many, many more.
And this doesn't mean we're closing up submissions! Please keep sending your work our way. All the details are here.
*We actually snaffled these up before the open subs began, but they deserve to be announced too!
In the public bar of the Wagtail, in Wapping, four men and a woman were drinking beer and discussing diseases. It was not a pretty subject, and the company was certainly not a handsome one. It was a dark November evening, and the dingy lighting of the bar seemed but to emphasize the bleak exterior. Drifts of fog and damp from without mingled with the smoke of shag. The sanded floor was kicked into a muddy morass not unlike the surface of the pavement. An old lady down the street had died from pneumonia the previous evening, and the event supplied a fruitful topic of conversation. The things that one could get! Everywhere were germs eager to destroy one. At any minute the symptoms might break out. And so - one foregathered in a cheerful spot amidst friends, and drank forgetfulness.
The purpose of this story is to give an idea of what might happen to America, being defenceless as at present, if she should be attacked, say at the close of the great European war, by a mighty and victorious power like Germany. It is a plea for military preparedness in the United States. (Cleveland Moffett, 1916)
"The Germans are in the streets!"
What followed was still more terrifying. Somewhere at the back of [Madison Square] Garden, a piercing whistle cut the air - evidently a signal - and suddenly we found ourselves facing a ghastly tragedy, and were made to realise the resistless superiority of a small body of disciplined troops over a disorganised multitude.
"Fertig! Los! Hup!" shouted a loud voice (it was a man with a megaphone) in the first gallery opposite the platform. Every face in that tremendous throng turned at once in the direction of the stranger's voice. And before the immense audience knew what was happening, five hundred German soldiers, armed with pistols and repeating rifles, had sprung to life, alert and formidable, at vantage-points all over the Garden. Two hundred, with weapons ready, guarded the platform and the Committee of Public Safety. And, in little groups of threes and fives, back to back, around the iron columns that rose through the galleries, stood three hundred more with flashing barrels levelled at the crowds.
"Blast them!" the writer groaned in bitter accents. "How I hate those B. E. M's.!"
"Hang them!" the artist yelled. "How I hate those B.E.M.'s!"
"Darn them!" the B.E.M. moaned. "How I hate those humans!"
The artist and the writer sat staring at each other in wordless misery, their coffee untasted and their spirits at low ebb. Up above, in the beehive that was the publishing house which gave them their livelihood, the word had gone around. B.E.M.'s, B.E.M.'s...
Sadly, in accents forlorn, the writer said: "Bug-eyed monsters! Ye gads! Bug-eyed monsters! Jack, old boy, do you realize we're setting science-fiction back a hundred years?"
It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South, in Alabama - Bill Driscoll and myself - when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, "during a moment of temporary mental apparition", but we didn't find that out till later.
There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake, and called Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants of as undeleterious and self-satisfied a class of peasantry as ever clustered around a Maypole.