Djinn and Beyond The Grave

This Week’s Prompt: 35. Special beings with special senses from remote universes. Advent of an external universe to view.

This Week’s Story: The Tears Begin To Show

When dealing with prompts so simple as this, I find it best to turn to potential sources within the human mind as we have it recorded. Folklore records such thoughts well, and in this case, extra sensory perception is a common concept to mine and discuss. The supernatural, particular in folklore, is the unseen and unperceptible. This is the nature of spirits, and those who see them. The more urban legend sorts of creatures, such as alien sightings or the like, follow similar veins. Perhaps we’ll take them on last.

The first sort of spirit, past the faries we’ve discussed extensively, that occurs to me are the djinn. Part of this is because the djinn are from that heartland of Lovecraft’s horror, the Middle East where ancient ruins and large urban centers have sat side by side for thousands of years. But part is also because of the nature of the djinn, as creatures more different to us in substance than necessarily in psychology.


Conquest of the Djinn

The djinn are arranged as we are, with kings and princes. The live as we do, with animals and shepherds. And in someways they operate like we do, albeit in reverse. We feed on the living, they find flesh on the bones, for example. And the djinn, like us, have trouble perceiving our world. Unlike the fae, who find us with ease and then retreat or run away, the average djinn is as aware of mortal existence as he is of the bottom of the sea.


A Ghul, Sometimes A Djinn

Djinn do have some distinction from our perceptions, however. They are often conflated with demons, and by such an association gain a number of miraculous strengths or powers. The dread lord of Darkness is, in Islam, among their ranks rather than an exile of the Angelic Host. Ghuls are sometimes brought in as djinn as well. Their extreme supernatural might is credited in popular stories of granting wishes (although whether such wishes are real or simply through vast connections depends on the telling), and certainly a certain blue figures ability to reference things beyond his era implies some knowledge we are unaware of.


Then There’s This Guy

The djinn also have two animal associations that they often take, two that are wary to any folklorist. The serpent and the dog. Creatures of perception and wildness, seekers and keepers of secrets. The djinn can be seen as a sort of intermediary sort of being. Not knowing everything, not entirely knowable, but not entirely alien either.


Such strange middle grounds are the dwelling place of the parapyschological. Second sight and mediumship, perceiving past the normal are all in this haze. Djinn and others are often accused of being behind these events by critics in the Middle Ages. It’s not, therefore, to unusual to suppose that if there are contacts from some other realm, they are related to these folkloric figures.

And contact with such things is often…dangerous.

The Exorcist, classic of horror writing and cinema that it is, provides the often cited story for why one should avoid piercing holes in the veil. Often it is credited with the literal demonization of the Ouija board, previously more a children’s toy or a serious divination tool in China. The spiritualist moment and connections with death are thus fairly self evidently. The Lovecraft mythos are built on this sort of Icarus like straining.


Ancient Chinese Ouija

But this prompt goes a step forward. Rather than mere contact with these alien entities, our own perception broadens to an extra universal view. An out-of-universe experience, if you will. This may be a new sort of horror. This is the horror or perhaps fantasy of ascension. It is similar, perhaps, to the notions we discussed when examining the creation of the universe, albeit almost in reverse.

What such a perception is, is again mostly irrelevant. What matters is how we get to this point view. It seems that the story relies on two elements of horror. One is the introduction of extra-universal entities viewing the world. These entities, to keep our story short, will likely contact an individual. There horror/distress of hearing or being contacted by entities alien to you is a good enough start. Being gradually drawn into the entities own sense of perception allows for more sorts of horror.

The horror of going insane blends well with that horror of loss of self. Of being absorbed into a larger, more dreadful mass. This horror is the sort that has been explored in science fiction before. It is full of possible additions, the metaphor of dying, of growing up, of political or religious movements or revelations. But given the limit our writings have, I will restrict it to only the concrete fears of paranoia and loss of self. The others might emerge as I write, but there is no guarantee.

When this strange perception happens seems key. I’ve grown a bit tired of the modern age. Perhaps now we can examine a tale akin to that of Abdul Alhazred, and return to the Ottoman empire, its connections between Greece and India. A Golden Age of exchange and trade. Alternatively, another empire that perhaps has reached that similar level of spiritualism that afflicts all empires.

It is, after all, an inversion of the hope spiritualism promises. The wonder of pyschics is that there is something unseens, something that enhances the world. That the afterlife or something like it exists and will bring a sense of certainty to the world. If we make it horrific, it is that this hopefully place is a lie. That this dream is, secretly, a nightmare.


Mother Russia might, political problems of recent days aside, be a great fit then. Spiritualism took hold at the turn of the last century, and the strangest of occultists have developed from this period. A Russian man or woman, as political revolutions move in the air, being lifted into yet another terrible horror. Perhaps during the brutal civil wars, whisked away after a fashion? We’ll have to see what such a place was like.

I might do some more exploration on this. If I have time, I will look into works on that period, a strange place and time not touched by American Horror writers often. But that’s me. What did you find?

If you’d like to support the Society, receive more stories or research, or are feeling generous, please check out our Patreon here.

To the Beginning of It All

This Weeks Prompt: 34. Moving away from earth more swiftly than light—past gradually unfolded—horrible revelation.

The Research: The Start of It All

12.At the center of it all, at the dawn of it all, a fire burns. A single many colored point of light that sears itself into the minds and eyes of the three who behold it: philosopher, priest, and poet alike. It lingers there, igniting new candles beyond the glass veiwing station.


1.It was a voyage unlike any other, crossing not just the encircled worlds of space but trespassing deep into Time’s domain. No longer would Chronos be some unconquerable titan or unpassable gateway. Rather now he would, like his mother Gaia and father Ouranos , be rendered a domain of humanity’s stolen thunderbolt.

11.As they flew back, the three candles saw worlds come into existences from the coalescing smoke whirling out of that first primordial flame. They saw as strange lights flickered brilliantly out of the darkness, pale in the presence of their eyes now burning inside out with a blaze. They could feel, as the ship pulled itself lurching back in time, a sensation spreading out of their eyes.

2.The passengers on this most auspicious voyage were carefully chosen. Not just scientists went aboard, although they were many. No, for this most deep dive into the origin of it all, all had a say. Thousands went aboard the great ark, to be conveyed homeward and see the on edge of all that was. Priests came to see God’s face. Poets came to hear the song that came from the stars. Farmers came to see that origin of life, that thing which gave them work and began the greatest of all gardens. Craftsmen came to see themselves reflected in the unfurling of all.


10.As they flew back farther still, the fire spread within them. Most of them thought that their inside, their memories and their intuitions, their instincts and emotions would burn last. That the flame would strip first inhibitions and rules, that the inner id was an inflammable substance. They were grievously wrong. The fire was kin to those deep things, and caught them first. Flickering it stripped things bare. All those deep things sank into it as if it were a great vat of quicksand or a pit to the depths of the sea. And so it was as the planets cooled and the first stars died.

3.It was strange passing past earth and seeing the rise and fall of progressively smaller empires from miles away. Ripples seemed to cascade in waves over the world, astonishing everyone who watched. Jungles and forests spread, and then glaciers spread over them, and back and forth the eternal clock swung. As they passed farther out, they saw multitudes of other worlds coming into view.. Worlds that lacked the familiar buzz of comm chatter and radio signals. Worlds that they knew had been full of life when they began the journey.

9.The poet did as poets do when they find something new. He composed verses and rhymes and meters and couplets and similes and metaphors, relearning his trade first with the pastoral. And so, the fire spilled from his mouth and whole worlds were settled with things like shepherds as planets are like hills, and naiad inhabited rivers rolled out among the stars. Life began and ended as winters came and went with the poets unwavering diction. HE spoke not a word of language any would understand, but the language that all the world obeyed. For he had seen the fire.


4.The engines whirled as the passengers went on and on. As they grew farther past, those with telescopes saw the belt of broken stones assemble itself into a whole of fire and soot. The children delighted themselves with the fire works of supernovas in the distance. They played with toys that now stood like giants over distant shapes. A few clamored to see the lone planets, lost hunks of ice roaring about the solar systems as this ship now did.

8.The priest did what all priests do when they behold revelation. She preached. She told the world of God and heaven, of profound unities and theorems, of mystic bonds that transcended apparent flesh and matter. And so between still shapeless smoke, flickers became clearer. The shepherds of mountains felt communion with one another. And fire, across all worlds, fire spread and delighted. The suns came into being more crisply, to imitate that first holiest of lights. And at her bidding did the first of those hilly worlds whirl down tumbling into the center of those stars, a sacrifice to the great powers that filled her. And she and the poet with words quarreled on things, and on the shape of things they had seen.

5.As the passed the edge of the cosmos, the passengers saw more of those many formed galaxies than all but the stargazers had seen. A brilliant web spread across the sky as they drew closer and closer together. It transfixed and tired many to behold such a vast shimmering form, a tapestry woven out of the cosmos.


7.The philosopher first did what their kind always does when they behold new truth. Doubt. Question. Deny. It burned at the edges of the philosopher’s eyes, until at last it escaped. It sculpted around itself those unsightly laws. It molded worlds of it’s own accord, full of hypothetical creatures. Things built of solids, hive minds, dreamers without eyes who never knew their delusions from all that was. Gaseous forms that fed on stars, strange minds with axioms alien to any of the ancients or moderns. P-brane zombies, ideological impossibilities.

6.And so the two ships passed on silver streaks, most onboard the one sleeping as they passed into that realm that kept the priest, philosophic, and poet awake as they beheld the new wonders sweeping past.


That ends this tale. Here I tried something new with time as well as space. I hope the experimentation wasn’t too confusing. There isn’t much character here, and like many stories, I wish I had more time. But ah well. What did you conjure or concoct?

I’d also be remiss not to admit that this was the song that inspired most of this to a degree:

Next week, we step outside the cosmos. And see with new eyes.

If you’d like to support the Society, receive more stories or research, or are feeling generous, please check out our Patreon here.

The Start of It All

This Weeks Prompt: 34. Moving away from earth more swiftly than light—past gradually unfolded—horrible revelation.

The Resulting Story :To the Beginning of It All

Well, this prompt is a bit peculiar. We are grounded in the motion of the narrative, a movement away from home into the past. The view expands both as we draw further back onto a larger horizon and as we travel back farther and farther into time. And of course, per Mr. Lovecraft’s usual, there is a horrifying revelation at the end of it all. Where to begin?

I will skip over how time travel occurs when one is moving at relativistic speeds, primarily because I am unqualified for such things. You, if you are interested, can find some sort of start here. Rather, lets begin by constructing something of a narrative arc out of the basics.

There sadly will not be much in the way of folklore or mythic routes this time until the end of the story, as time travel backwards is not a terribly common trope. Likewise, while some horrible revelation at the origin of all things might have something to work with, this will have to wait.

Rather we’ll start with the first beginning, the impetus for this fantastic voyage. And the clearest cause for that would be that most pure of scientific exploits: exploration. Mankind has been fascinated by it’s past and origins for as long as they have been forgotten, and the ability to view such an event would no doubt foster inquiry. There’s an entire novel in the build up, the people who would devise such a machine, and who would in the end put it to use.

But we don’t care about most of that. Instead, it is enough to say that such an engine has been built and sent a crew hurtling back through time, witnessing from greater and greater distance history flow in reverse. This will be the mid section of two great bulks of writing, as I’ve devised it. We must have an introduction to our characters, the conflicts in their lives, and the rules of the machinery at the start. Then we have this, the voyage itself, where we can include beautiful descriptions of the vision and where perhaps we will include the midpoint for the character conflict. It might instead itself by a the midpoint, a stunning display that changes the perspective on the world.


She’s our mum. WE GET IT.

And the high point, the climax, the horrible revelation. And it is a…well, I hate to disparage Mr. Lovecraft, but there is a certain obsession with horrifying origins isn’t there? I could talk of Chaos and Tiamat again as I did here, but I feel we should move in a different sort of horror then here. The first thought is a taint the crew creates by it’s finally stop in the past. That some how, at the end of the journey, they damage things irreparably. This notion is not uncommon in pop culture time travel stories, and is often half the reason to have them. Alternatively, the voyagers ensure some great calamity they sought to stop, dooming them tragically. This also is a common complication, and thus not one I’d like to entertain.

But a third option presents itself as I think about all of this. What if we reverse the nature of the contamination, so that it’s no longer damaging the past but the future? What if something in those first few glorious moments of existence was extinguished long ago (and for good reason) and now, by means of this craft, finds it’s way back?

Now that we have the basics of the plot, we should lay the ground work of a setting. Given the nature of the prompt, the setting here is worth spending sometime ruminating on. We are dealing with something like an elevator or bottle episode: we have a small cast in the same area for almost the entire story. Sure, they might look outside the window to see history whirl past. There is a vast expanse, however, of characterization and atmosphere that can be imbued within something as small and claustrophobic as a spaceship.


Vast, isn’t it? Messy too.

This is apparent in not only works of horror (Event Horizon and Alien both seem rather relevant here), but in science fiction in general. The feel of the Enterprise is fundamentally different then that of the TARDIS.

So what about ours?

Well, our ship is best served, it seems, by a contrast to the strangeness flowing outside. An articulate, clean, neat, and white room with a large viewing mirror might serve to separate it from the swirl of lights and colors and darkness out in the void of space that grows and grows. More importantly, it is easily susceptible to whatever form our primeval corruption takes. Alternatively, we might make it something more lived in. A place that is familiar to the modern reader, like an airplane or a…well, sea ship. Circular tables, nice seats and benches, drinks about. The parts of truly human life. Disruption to this shouldn’t be too hard, and it would move things away from the sort of clinical future that is more common these days.

Now we have a what happens, a where it happens, a vague notion of when (honestly, with times being what they are, is it any matter if it’s in a century or a millennia?), but not a who it happens too. So, who do we need for this little story? Who needs to see the start of everything?

I should mention now that I am in the midst of reading some science fiction myself, namely Dan Simmon’s Hyperion. The book hands questions of knowledge quite well, and I might take a bit from it in the broad strokes of some of it’s characters. Namely, we have in Hyperion a Scholar, a Poet, and a Priest. Each by profession bears a different understanding of what we might for a moment call philosophic truth. Each communicates knowledge in it’s own way. And thus each might present an interesting opportunity to explore this corrupting force from the start of the world.


The Yoruba Goddess Oya

The more I think on such a force, the less I like calling it corrupting however. I feel a more direct analog to creative forces might serve us better. Fire. Fire as a force at the start of existence has deep roots. The Eddas refer the fire of Muspelheim, the Yoruba of West Africa have Oya, and the reforming nature of volcanoes has been noted in the Pacific. All this in addition to fire’s…loaded symbolism as destroyer, refiner, creative spark, and maddening pain makes it a better start I feel than an abstract corruption or malady. Rather, some of that first fire at the dawn of all things follows the shuttle back.

And what happens when it returns? Hmph. That is a question I don’t yet have an answer too. I suppose it does what an especially creative fire does. Consume and filter and refine the world in the image of it’s wielder.

What did you dredge up from the edge of space dear reader? Have you seen some other horrid revelation sweeping the nations?

If you’d like to support the Society, receive more stories or research, or are feeling generous, please check out our Patreon here.

My Brother

This Week’s Prompt: 33. Determinism and prophecy.

The Resulting Story:Fates and Fancy

My brother was born when the moon wasn’t out. He was born without mama getting big either. Just one day, in the middle of the night, when no one was expecting it, he was born. Well, not no one. Ms. Lester or Lichster, the old lady that walked with her herd of chickens past our farm every morning, she’d known. She’d walked up to mama one day, her big eye looking her over, and the pronounced that Mama would have another child. Mama laughed, and moved on. But my brother was born the next day.

Ms. Lester was like that though. Pa says that folks like that back east are called ‘cunning folk’. And back east, some of them ride with wampus cats or speak with Indian ghosts to learn their tricks out in the hills. Ms. Lester, though, she’s just a little kooky Pa says. And a little lucky.

When my brother was born, he didn’t cry. Mama nudge him awake every now and again, but he never cried not even when we bathed him. He’d sqaull, but it wasn’t like any baby Mama had heard. But Mama insisted he’d just grow into it. She named him Duron, after the mute in her Book of Saints. And that was it for Duron for a while.

A few weeks later, though, Ms. Lester was walking with her chickens again and stopped in front of Pa while he was plowing. The cow wouldn’t move it while she stood there, feeding the chickens. When Pa went around to yell at her, she just stared at him for a bit. Then she said back.

“The boy’s going to go back to where he’s from. And they’re going to burn the whole of you down, you wait and see, before that boy is eighteen.”

Pa just stared at her for a bit, and she walked off like she was bored, smiling like Pa had said some dumb joke as she teetered off. Pa just went back to planting and told me and Mama about it when he got home. Duron didn’t care much, he just stared around space like normal.

Ms. Lester never talked about Duron again, and I kinda forgot about it for a while. After a bit, around when he started walking, he’d stagger around, like he was following something. Pa and Mama figured he probably was just exploring like some kids do. But then I saw him talking his first words, when I was ten and him three, up into the air. Not only that, but he was bobbing his head like he heard someone talk back.

Mama and Pa were not happy to hear that.

Durgon, or Dug as we had started to call him, had to stay inside from now on. He wasn’t to wander in the fields, in case something snatch him. And he was to stop this nonsense about invisble friends with tall hats and long jackets wandering around the house. Pa nailed a cross over the door just in case.

I was little, so I didn’t mind much. I liked having a brother who was as smart as this, and quiet most of the time. Back then, he’d only talk in quick whispers. Usually stuff like “no” or “yes” or “want” with some feeble gesture of his little arms. Being a few miles from an other kids my age, I figured he was a decent enough playmate.

We’d play ball, and as he grew older he got quite the arm on him. Mama said we had to stop eventually, after we nearly hit her as she came in the door. The ball was for outside, and Dug was an inside boy now. So instead I taught him dress up and we played house. Except he always, even as he got better at talking, wanted to be the preacher.

“He’s got nice clothes,” Dug would say, his face doing it’s best attempt at a pout. His lips didn’t move much, so it was quite the struggle. But he managed.

“But they’re all black and borning. Come on, why not be a cowboy? Or an outlaw.” I’d say, putting my hands on my hips like Mama did. Goodness knows, I still want to be a cowboy or an outlaw. Or even a marshal. Ride around with a gun and horse, fighting and drinking.

But no. Dug had to be boring each time. Except he wouldn’t even be a preacher right. He’d forget his Bible everywhere, he’d just babble jibberish or Indian instead of preaching like Pa did or like the minister at the church did. Made just as much sense as the minister, with his Latin and all, but wasn’t the right sounds. To many ‘k’s and ‘z’s.

But all was fine. When he got big enough to work the fields with Pa, there was talk again of him going outside. He hadn’t told them that he still saw things, mainly because he thought Mama would lock him up and Pa might try and beat them off with his Winchester. So they thought they were gone. And personal, I thought it was wrong having him stay inside, so I kept my lips shut about all the things he’d tell me about. After all, if he went outside, he could become a proper little brother. His muscles looked like they’d wasted with only candle and windowlight on them. He was quick and smart, but quite. Sometime under the sun would do him some good.

Dug had grown tall and lanky, a chest too small for his limbs and head. He had big old teeth, an extra set of pointy ones beneath the rest. His eyes were big and brown and his hands were too big for his arms. He nibbled on his nails, because if he didn’t they grew fast into almost claws. He walked with a hunch and still stared out into space at times. He was five years younger than me, but was head and shoulders taller than Pa. With all that, they figured he’d be good on the farm.

Still, Dug had rules. Pa was going to show him around and he’d work within eyesight of Pa the whole time. In case something went wrong, Pa said. He never said what that something was, granted, but something was a good by word for Pa. There was always something. Something ate our grain stockpiles, so we barely scrap through winter. Something spooked the cows, so the plowing took three more hours. Something was messing with the fences.

But Pa kept working, and with Dug helping him, the farm started to make some money back for once. Pa stopped swearing up a storm everyday, and started smiling.

“They said nothing would ever grow here, that it was bad lands only fit for the redskins. Well, wait until they see all this golden wheat. Nothing grows here my boot.”

Dug was happier too. Always wanted to go out farther, out of the fields and into the hills and plains. Out to see the great Missouri, or east to see the marvelous Missippi. I guess that’s what happens when your locked up so long. You get filled to the brim with wanderlust. But Pa was clear: no leaving the farm, unless coyotes or the Lakota or Blackfeet took him away to the badlands up north. And as Dug approached eighteen, there was no arguing with Pa. The fields went sour again on us, the heyday of golden wheat was gone. So Dug stayed on the fields, pining for those far off hills where Ms. Lister once lived.

Until one night. One night dug shook me awake, his lips still not quite wokring right. His eyes were bulged a bit, and his smile was bigger than normal even for him. Not long, more tall. His teeth were real big.

He told me then and there he was headed over the hills. He wanted to see where the men in tall hats and black cloaks went. Wanted to know what they knew. Where he was from.

“Your from here,” I said, barely awake. “Go back to bed.”

He shook me awake again.

“But why’s Pa always keeping me away from the hills? What’s up there?” he asked, biting his lip.

“Indians.” I said, rolling over. “Go back to sleep.”

He shook me awake again.

“But how come they never come over the hills? I’ve never seen an Indian my whole life, and their right there?”

“Look, Dug, just go to sleep.”

I felt something shaking me again, and nearly bolted up to give him what for…only to find the room empty. Except a long shadow against the wall, a looming shadow of something tall with a long head. It was there for a while, almost floating. And then, slowly, it slipped down the wall and out under the door. I stared, I couldn’t move. It was gone.

A rightful scream began to bubble up in my throat. It started as loud sputters, trying to grasp what I had seen. Trying to put the shape to a face or a face to the shape, as to what kind thing had snuck in. Then it started to flood out of my mouth, a loud hoarse scream across the farm…that echoed into my door and bounced around my room.

I got up and ran out to see if the… whatever that shadow was, was still there. I ran out and saw Dug loping off in the distance, off to the hills. And I remember what old Ms. Lister had said. I turned to shout for Pa, to warn him about what happened.

And then I saw that shadow again, much closer now, cast on the air. A big shadow, floating like clothes on the line, tall and with a thin head. A long limb came out from it’s chest and pushed me to the ground. I couldn’t move after that, just stare as it dragged me away to the hills and left me on the side facing the farm. It’s grip wasn’t real. Or, well, I couldn’t feel it as it moved me. It was like I was gliding on the ground against my will.

From where I was, I saw great black shapes as tall as trees, riding on the wind. The wind was cold, colder than it had ever been. Most of them were missing their feet, and the one at their head towered over the farm house. He was the biggest, with gleaming red eyes and long limbs like Dug’s. Even from the hill, frozen as I was, I could see that he had no feet, and his mouth was full of teeth.


And I watched as they rent the farm apart. I saw them, shadows of men with great horns, devour Pa, tear him apart like he was a pig. I heard Pa scream for a moment, before passing on. I couldn’t close my eyes as they smashed apart the house like a twister. As the big one lifted Mama, and tossed her in his hand like he was weighing a sack of potatoes before tossing her out of sight. And with a howl, the others looked up at that chilly creature. Slowly it turned it’s red eyes towards me.

Next thing I knew, I was far away, lying in bed. And someone had put a child in my arms, swaddled already, a newborn babe. There was a woman, a nurse there. And she smiled, told me how they found me out in the cold. How lucky I was, because a bit later me and my child would die of frost bite. I stared at the babe, as she told me how well behaved it was. It didn’t even cry.

If you’d like to support the Society, receive more stories or research, or are feeling generous, please check out our Patreon here.