Prompt: 4. Horror Story. Man dreams of falling—found on floor mangled as tho’ from falling from a vast height.

The Research:Perchance to Dream:Dreams and Mr. Lovecraft

Mr. Thomas Lyons found himself falling at a dangerous rate. Mountains poked out of the clouds towards him before he could blink. Falling faster and faster, in what appeared to be a valley of stone and greenery. Down and down Mr. Thomas Lyons fell, smashing past branches and pushing aside gravel and stone. His body was rent from him, mangled atop the outer surface of the sovereign earth.

But Thomas found himself still falling, as bones of long dead dream beasts rocketed past him, deeper and deeper. Large monoliths of tooth and skull rose past him as he hurtled, to where stone became flame. Winds whipped him in the great vaults, as he saw the worlds that Virgil painted and Dante carved. Lashes of sin struck his mind, the widening gyre undoing all around him. Thomas saw the flames of wrath, the many rivers of Hell, descending like a new Lucifer cast from on high.

How he started falling, he could not say. In dreams, deceitful memory is more silent than while waking. Swirling and shaking he found the cold bottom of Creation, that Fundament of traitors. Now he could see others, a mighty host of translucent men and women, clumping and gathering in meteors of feverish dreamers. Like stones from a sling they descended. At last, he thought, at last he would have his rest. For this was the bottom of things, the end of existence. Here had the Lord, Thomas knew, drawn the barrier from the sea.

And yet. And yet he feel farther still, into that place where light had not touched. The Hebrews call it tehom, the Babylonians Tiamat, the Great Greeks Oceanus or Chaos, and the sagely Chinese knew it as Hudun. Chaotic sea, wherein serpents and dragons lie. Mr. Lyons saw them, a mass of flesh, a wall of eyes and mouths gaping and pulling. An ocean of blood and ichor and teeth and bone. And he saw his fellows, and was rolled with them, now a multitude of falling screaming and shrieking fools. The roiled and rolled through maw and claw, like phantasms through the Satanic mill. And Dream, cruel king Dream, would not give rest.

Dream stands beside is brother of Death, and will not hear Times plea. And so Mr. Lyons shrieked as he fell, his mind slowly unwinding. But, in time, even that gave way. And he found himself in that place where form and chaos, existence and nonexistence both spring from. Unraveled. Unmade. Undone.

Thomas Lyons stopped falling, or rather began falling again, from his roof that night. For a brief instant, he breathed air and felt the certainty of earth. In the next his body hit the ground with enough force to indent the foundational stone, his bones shattering and his skull fracturing. And the moment after that, Thomas realized he had died. But he had yet to stop, for down he was pulled, by that Source of no thing, end of all things, and Dream’s elder came to claim him.

Well, that is what me and my colleague could raise. What do you dream of, when you find yourself falling.

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The Worst Horror is the One You Have to Live With


This Week’s  Prompt: 4. Horror Story. Man dreams of falling—found on floor mangled as tho’ from falling from a vast height.

The Research:Perchance to Dream:Dreams and Mr. Lovecraft

The Worst Horror Is The One You Have To Live With

By our guest necromancer,

Kelly Danahy

Like many widowers and fathers who have lost their children, David struggled to sleep. His insomnia was provoked by silence and nightmares. Even his days were marked by triggers that would leave him paralyzed in pain: his wife’s button-down shirt, the voice of his daughter on his voicemail, the dramatic decline of bills to be paid.

He started with the television in the living room. He kept it running during the day, drowning out the birds the family used to feed, and long into the night to drown out the silence of absent giggles, the lack of clicking heels on their wooden floor, and the phantom tinkle of glass he would still sometimes hear as if someone were getting a late night sip of milk. Soon the bedroom television played 24/7 and the basement television too.

First, his favorite shows became the soundtrack to his life, but they led to accusing nightmares full of pointing fingers and his daughter being swallowed up into darkness. Children’s shows made a brief appearance, but they were quickly rejected after he dreamed of his family together and woke up sobbing. David kept searching for relief, dragging his body to work, reminding himself to breathe, to blink, to live.

His reprieve came in commercials.

Ads did not care whether he was safe or happy or warm. As he watched them, time seemed to fly by faster, week by week. They only had the most basic of wants: buy the product, buy the service, buy, buy, buy. Their intention was clear; it was their special sauce, as it were, and David loved them for it. They paraded naked women and racecars and celebrities in front of their audience, never once asking them to think deeply. Their underlying message repeated like a delusional, obsessed parrot. Buy. Buy. Buy now?

Later his coworkers would say that he had seemed happier but distracted. Dazed, muddled, dreamy, they would argue, bouncing vague descriptions around to label their dear friend. Soon, even when he was away from a television, the commercials began to play in his mind. Like good neighbors, they were the best part about waking up. He would dream of fluffier pillows and plumper lips and Legos. He would go through his workday with commercials racing in front of his eyes: Rodeo burgers, Hot Wheels, Pretty Pretty Princess. He would sing Subway’s jingle of the Five Dollar Foot Long. He would reenact the sketch to the latest Skittles commercial in the breakroom. He would hum along to the rhythm of the song that played in the background of a Toyota car commercial.

The Home Shopping Network would later add that David was one of their best customers, buying ten, maybe twenty, items a night. Never afraid to indulge himself in a good product – I mean, these are quality products that are worth the investment, after all, the Executive Manager of QVC was quoted to have said.

David daydreamed of deals, of colored pencils that came in sets of a thousand, of knives that never rusted or dulled, of molding clay that could make realistic mountains, of lawyers that would bring him justice and a handsome settlement if he ever had a tragic trampoline accident.

When he came to work that fateful day, the coworkers near his cubicle greeted him. They were mildly befuddled when David took one of Sam’s pens, but they thought it was just another one of his wild, kooky jokes. They didn’t hear him murmur how great a deal it was under his breath. They grew more worried as the day progressed when it seemed that David was beginning to hoard rolls of toilet paper in his desk drawers and at lunch when he took Peggy’s Lean Cuisine. All in the name of great sales he raved. In the middle of meetings, David would start meowing and then ask if anyone wanted McDonald’s one dollar cones. He was met with stares and silence.

Give him a break, said Mark, one of David’s oldest friends. Of that Kit Kat bar, asked David as he walked by. Mark had nothing to say after that.

David had a water gun fight on the stairs leading up the roof. He cradled Sam’s pen, a roll of toilet paper, and a half-eaten Lean Cuisine. He jumped up and down on a trampoline with his friends. Up and Down. Up and down. The floor of the trampoline seemed more solid and less forgiving than he would have imagined. He looked around at his smiling friends. He tried to do a flip. Halfway in the air his flip seemed to turn into a flop. His trajectory was off, he realized. He was falling, falling. He wouldn’t hit the trampoline at this rate but the sidewalk. Smiling, his friends watched on. David couldn’t tell if they knew what was happening to him. I’m falling, he thought, I’m falling. He tried to yell for help, but nothing came out. One of the friends looked an awful lot like his daughter, he realized. Falling. Falling.

They found him on the sidewalk. Mangled. Bleeding. Alive, but barely. He had dreamed of falling from a trampoline but fell somewhere between living and dead instead. David was silent after that. When his friend Mark later searched his house for some of his personal effects, he found a television roaring static in every room, blue and white reflecting off the walls. In the corners of every room all of his late night shopping products were stacked neatly. The cable company told Mark that they had shut off David’s subscription nearly three months ago.

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Perchance to Dream:Dreams and Mr. Lovecraft

This Weeks Prompt is: 4. Horror Story. Man dreams of falling- found on floor mangled as tho’ from falling from a vast height.

The Stories:Down,The Worst Horror is the One You Have to Live With
We will actually be having a guest necromancer that week, who’s prior writing you can find here. I’ll be writing at her blog that week as well, detailing some of my…personal nightmares.
And that brings us to the main topic of the research: Dreams. Dreams come in a variety of forms, though as many a dream dictionary will tell you, some are shockingly common. This falling dream is in fact one of those dreams (or a variation on one, a dream of flying). Other common dreams include running for your life, finding yourself nude, not quite fitting into your car, or having a great deal of trouble using a phone.
But I don’t have enough space here to discuss the entire world of dreams and symbolism and usage, both ancient and modern. So, we are going to focus on Mr. Lovecraft’s interaction with dreams. Namely, as inspiration and as a sort of fantasy story among his horror tales.
Our prompt, indeed our list, spans 1919 to 1935, overlapping a great deal with Mr. Lovecraft’s Dreamland Cycle. The Dreamland is a realm of surreal imagery and magic, inhabited by gods that resemble those of ancient cultures and normal appearing people, as well as Gugs, ghouls, shantaks, and great spiders of Leng. Great human-like gods walk and priests preach, and great spells and tragedies are wrought. In the magnum opus of the Dream Cycle, Journey to Unknown Kadath, we accompany Randolph Carter as he spans the Dreamlands searching for the gods, learning a good deal about it. We learn that there is a Dreamlands for each world and each dreamer, that the Elder Gods of the Dreamlands dislike being seen by mortals and are quite, that the moon of the Dreamlands can be reached by simply sailing to the horizon, and the ultimate fate of one Mr. Pickman.

And we learn who reigns supreme in the Dreamlands: Nyarlathotep. Here the Dreamlands touch Lovecraft’s own inspiration. Mr. Lovecraft is well recorded to have been plagued by night terrors and nightmares, and from one of these did Nyarlathotep emerge. The dream itself is recorded in Nyarlathotep’s nominal story (apologies for the white on black text), and is a frightful case. The Crawling Chaos haunts the Mythos of Mr. Lovecraft, one of the few truly malignant forces to exist. He is supreme sovereign in the Dreamlands, a sort of Nightmare King who while cordial with Randolph Carter still bears ill will toward his subjects and his charges.
Yet, the Dreamlands have a strange curiosity. They are…happy, in a way. Mr. Lovecraft’s world is terrifying and grim, atheistic and full of horror. Except in the Dreamlands. Here, the truly potent dreamer (such as Mr. Carter) can live after death, building a great city for himself in the Dreamlands. There is an afterlife, almost a heaven, in these little isles. It is…exceptional.
And next week, our guest will fetch one unfortunate dreamer. I wonder what they will say.

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A Letter to His Most Sacred and Imperial Majesty

Crete Cliffs

This Week’s Prompt: The shores of Attica respond in song to the waves of the Aegean.

The Resulting Story:Greece, But Not As You Know It!

To His Sacred and Imperial Majesty, Commander of the Faithful,

I have returned from your sacred majesty’s mission, and wish to make account of what I have seen in those lands that are farthest west in your domain. The Attic peasentry remain resentful of your righteous rule, but your loyal servants keep the peace. The taxes are collected in a timely manner, the people are protected, and the grain is bountiful. There is, however, a peculiarity to this goodly report. I write this to inform your imperial majesty, and for no other purpose.

The mothers ina village along the Attic coast, some distance from Athens, have had only young girls. Not a single healthy male for your service has been born. When I inquired to the your local servants about this oddity, they insisted that it was a strange miracle or simply misfortune that the village had borne only women, and that men have been found outside the village. Not one boy for the Janissary, they said, but not one for the fields either. Unsatisfied, I made to survey the village myself.

The village priest was welcoming, speaking well of your reign and of your just laws. When I inquired to the strange pattern of births, he showed me a detailed account of the baptisms, from the time of Caesar Justinian. Several boys were listed, but disaster had struck, funerals occurring when the boys were just at the cusp of manhood. Broken legs, ribs, and illness were time and time again listed as the cause. I asked where this plague of miseries came from and the priest was at a loss. Simply misfortune he said.

I stayed the night in this quiet town, boarding with a woman who was alone at the time. Her husband, she explained, was in town showing his itqa records to your loyal servants, to ensure that they both did their proper duty. While serving dinner, she inquired at my reason for coming so far from my homeland. I explained that the peculiarities of this village had attracted the attention of your majesty’s loyal servants and ministers. In passing, I asked if she had any knowledge as to why not one son native to this village yet lived. At this she was silent.

I asked her if there was something she could say, but she held her hand aloft and told me to be silent for a moment. There was a song in the distance, its pitch sinking slowly, a choir invisible. She said that her mother told her it was the song of their souls, going onward to heaven. Perhaps, he said, I could find them there. I asked for a lantern and a coat, and the woman warned that the stones are slippery near the shore. I thanked her and left for the caves.

The sea wind was cold, but the brilliance of the moon made the night into day. As I made my way along the grass, a good distance from the shore, the distant tone continued to sink. The once wavering and high pitch settled deeper and deeper. As I at last arrived at the cliffs, the noise was like a man striving to hold a great weight over head, as it slowly pushed him to his knees.

The caves were low set, domes carved by the Creator’s own hand, and now half full with water. Bits of wood and mangled rope floated on the surface. How many ships had been smashed into these great cliffs? How many since the time of the Prophet, peace upon him?

As the din grew deeper, a roaring as strong as the sea, I saw something else floating in the caves. A pair of long fingers gripped the stone, floating in the water. And lowering my lantern to see what poor soul was victim of the waves, I saw arms with veins barely held in their skin. A great bloated form pulled itself out of the water, slowly. Its limbs shook as its long claw like fingers gripped the stone. I was transfixed, as the creature rolled to face me, its eyes catching the moon light. Its maw opened and revealed that, despite it’s human form, its teeth were like a great dogs. And bones, such small bones floated out of its jaw. I felt great hands upon my very mind. I am unashamed to say I fled, hearing the moaning of the caverns.

I send this story simply to inform and advise. Whatever the creature is, it must be destroyed. It is anathema to your just rule and a danger to your subjects. As for what is to be done, about this village that tolerated such a beast, and what horrid rites they may have practiced, I leave that to the wisdom of the Commander of the Faithful.

Your Humble Servant.

Well, that scrap of flesh had a lot to say. What did you find in the waves?

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Greece, But Not As You Know It!

This Weeks Prompt: 3. The shores of Attica respond in song to the waves of the Aegean.

The Resulting Story: A Letter to His Most Sacred and Imperial Majesty
Alright, so proper nouns: Attica is part of Greece, namely the region around Athens. The Aegean is the sea next to Greece, separating it from Anatolia. So, we’re back in the same region as we were for Demophon.
Except, this time, we’ll examine another portion of Greek history: The Ottoman Era. Specifically, the time between the Ottoman conquest of 1500 to the Greek War of Independence of 1821. This is a rather long era, but some broad commonalities existed through out.

Firstly, the Ottoman empire’s most infamous policy, child taxation. The Ottoman Empire was partly run by a group of bureaucrats called the Janissary, Christian children raised by the state and forbidden to have families. The Janissary were acquired using the Child Tax, which require 1 in every 5 children that were male and able-bodied to serve.

The tax collectors, who often collected said children along with normal taxation, were often in the upper strata of society (This isn’t as weird as you might suspect. If your not a land owner, tax collector is usually a decent job. The government often doesn’t notice if you’ve swiped some.). Greek’s, as most people, did not like the tax man. Or the Ottomans, for that matter. Greek monasteries played a key role here as well, as Orthodox Christendom was key to Medieval Greek identity. And while the Ottomans never forced conversion, they did demand the typical additional tax from non-Muslims.
In this climate, came one of the most fascinating creatures I’ve ever read about. Greek folklore at the time conjured forth the vrykolaka, a fascinating variant on the Slavic vampire. The vrykolaka has numerous attributes in common (powered by Satanic and nefarious forces, hungry, infectious, from a dead body), but some truly interesting original twists (body like a drum, limited vocabulary at times, crushing victims in their sleep). I would speculate that the origin of such a creature has a common cause in both Slavic and Greek fears: Conversion.

In modern times, the vampire is a frightful specter, but we seem to have forgotten that originally, the vampire was a lieutenant of hell. The bite did more than force you to walk the earth post-mortem. It was damnation and hell-fire. It was a forced violation of the soul by an embodiment of sacrilege. Now, the Ottoman Empire had many benefits, but it is hard not to imagine such a fear growing in Christians that were occupied at the time.

But back to the story. How to make Attica sing? Well, a rather peculair trick occurs to me: Caves. Caves, if of the right composition, can produce sound with enough air. There’s an interesting set in Iceland that produce rather strange noises in this manner.

And as for the waves of the Aegean…well, what would happen to the tone as the water rose? Deeper and deeper it would go. And things from the depths of the cave would rise to the surface.

I wonder, what corpse I can make inquiry of next week.

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