Tuesday, August 29, 2017

a fairness to madness

I was sitting at my desk poring over files and dossiers festooned with with runes and appeals to dark powers. Next I knew a syringe was sliding out of my arm as a straitjacket was peeled off of me. And there was sister looking as judgemental as ever.

“You choked,” she said as she threw me my rumpled suit. “Once again you took on more than you could handle.”

“Did we succeed?” There was a long pause.

“They said you did a fair job. Not good. Fair. Enough of keep us alive another year if we’re lucky.”

“You’re welcome.” She kicked me in the shin as I was hopping on one leg to get my pants leg on. I fell over.

“You’re good storyteller but you stink at being an administrator.”

I squinted. I think I had a black eye. “Hindsight…”

An hour later I lit a stale cig as I stared up at the windows of the asylum, he faint spray of pink and orange dawn looking garish behind the crumbling white facade of the austere structure. The muffled screams didn’t faze me. In a second story window, a pale face in a halo of wild hair stared back down at me.

“Normally you’re in a hurry to leave,” she said. “You made a friend in there?”

I furrowed my brow in an attempt to make sense of the memories I brought back from there. The labcoats...the cages...the dancing doll...the hungry maws…

“Yeah, you could say I did…”

“Sad thing is, I think this is a step up for you.” She shoved me into the back of the car and slammed the door. The thrumming of the engine shook the back seat.

“I’m shopping in town next week. I’ll drop you off for a few hours.”

“Thanks Simone…”

“You can never thank me enough…” She slammed the pedal and we sped off.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

And now a word from our sponsors

So you'll help me bring my sister back if I help you bring people to Innsmouth?

Fine. It's a deal.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Out of the Innsmouth

Crawling out of a well shrouded in the color you can't find in the damn rainbow. When the squid-man is talking you down you know you're out of sorts. He told me not to play with Bubbles again and sent me to the Keeper the Mayor Cat.

Don't try and hide behind that pipe smoking fisherman facade. You look like a damn cigar stand. I can smell the muck of Devil Reef on you!

He told me I was brought back for a reason. The temple is older than ancient, and it's almost ready. Two months. They must come. They must see. But they must also breathe. They're working on that.

I'm to spread the word and spread to those who spread it more.

I had one condition.

Not without my sister.

He laughed and I heard her screaming as she fell up from the well.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Littman Detective Agency

Not much to start with, but you gotta start somewhere. The generous grant from my new Treasurer made Steelhead Bay an offer I can't refuse. It seems the Marshall isn't a fan of new-fangled gadgets, so my plans for buying one of them horseless carriages are off the table unless I paint it brass and slap a samovar on the trunk.

It seems New Palermo is never coming back. Most of the locals got relocated to a crater out in the Midwest with some secrets of its own. Will they even remember where they come from after the Feds are done with their newsreels? 

It's one of those places where people are afraid of Communists hiding under their bed and the kids ride around on motorcycles playing g-dawful music. One of those places where everyone expects you to be straightlaced during the day who knows what kinda monkey business goes on at night. 

Also found a lady with spunk who wants to join the operation, she even offered to build the placard and badges. Then we can start offering our services to anyplace with at least a telegraph.

So things are looking up.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Doom That Came To Palermo

My muscles burned in protest as I pulled myself towards safety one rung at a time. As I lifted and pushed away the manhole cover my eyes stung from the harsh streetlights.

Simone clicked the safety on her shotgun and helped me out with her free hand.

“What did you find?”

I pulled off the mask and threw it aside. I leaned against the brick alley wall with both hands  stooped over to spit out my lunch. When I was done I got around to an answer.

“It’s spawning...could be the Goat…”

Simone winced. “Oh Christ…”

I kicked off my galoshes and peeled away my leather gloves. “Soon the sewers won’t be big enough to hold them all.”

I kicked the bundle back down the open manhole. Simone opened the briefcase she brought along and passed me a new set of slacks.

“How much time do we have?”

“Not much time at all...we gotta evacuate this town inside of two weeks before the Foundation can send their exterminators. Otherwise a lot of people we know are gonna lose their minds and their lives.”

I was balanced on one foot and fumbling with the belt when I felt a cold piece of rope wind around my ankle.

“OH SHI--”


She unlocked the safety and fired both barrels down the manhole. Instead of blood and gore the thing dissipated in a cloud of oily black smoke, and I fell to the pavement like a drunk outside the cantina on Cinco de Mayo.

I crawled over and helped her push the manhole cover until the grinding of pavement against metal surrendered to a satisfying Clunk.

“That was a young’un. They’re faster....but they’re not howling like the big ones.”

“How the HELL are we gonna get all these people out? They’ve already been relocated once! They’re not gonna move this quick again!”

I pulled myself up and grabbed a clean shirt from the briefcase.

“That’s really not our call, Sis. As soon as we call Washington the Feds’ll make ‘em move. Especially if they gotta kill all that with fire.”

She sighed. “I was just getting the hang of this place.”

“They might move back eventually. For now they’ll think it’s just another natural disaster…”

I pulled my tie up until it was snug. “I here there’s a suburb of Boston that startin’ to boom...they’re actually lookin’ for workers. I bet a lot of these folks will sit tight there until Noop gets the all-clear.”

I picked up the gas mask and stuffed it in burlap sack by a strap with a pencil and dropped into a burlap sack so I could sterilize it later. Then leaned over the briefcase myself and fished out my trenchcoat with a snap.  

“I met one of our new Steelhead neighbors,” I went on as I adjusted the sleeves. “He’s cagey about it but it’s pretty obvious he’s Lunar’s kid. He’s building a library across from us. One of the kinds we could put to good use. His assistant he referred to sounds like a master of the five-finger discount.”

“Well that’s good to hear. Do we have furniture yet?”

I popped my fedora back on and shut the case. “Yep...I found an old file cabinet…”

She just shook her head. “Priorities, Dave. Priorities…”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

more than the tiger prowling

Journal Entry - Monday April 24, 1933

After I finished that job in Boston, I caught a flamenco show then hauled it back to New Palermo. When I got back to the room my tux was laid out for me with a note from Simone on it.

“I’m off to the New Seraph Club. Go to the Tea Party tonight. Watch for shattered cups.”

The holster was laid out on the tux.

It was the weekly Monday Night shindig. Rum and Coca-Cola. Hidey Hidey Ho. All was Charleston until that Malachi guy showed up. Who the hell brings a book to a tea dance? What ever he was mumbling from it made the hairs on my neck raise up like they were getting mugged in an alley on Walpurgisnacht.

It’s gotta be that same damn book those crazy rich bastards are killing each other to get. I was standing there, trying to figure out if it was crazier to jump him or pull my barrel in front of everybody when the local bankers started getting into it.

Everybody felt it. I think I was the only one who knew what it was, but the rest of them - they reacted to it as sadness. Fear. Anger. Jealousy. Suddenly the rage everyone keeps in blew up stronger than all the tunes and booze and scandalous dances can keep a lid on.

The local wiseguys who got the most covered up got warped the hardest. This just threw gasoline on the sparks. Who’s eyeing up whose dame. Who needs a hospital bed. Who needs some new holes in their necktie.

Soon somebody swats a teacup out of somebody else’s hand. The whole damn crowd and the whole damn orchestra froze as it spun up and out and landed with the faintest crash on the ballroom tiles.

And then of course they all rushed for the exit, clutching their cocktails and Cuban stogies for dear life. Priorities. I raced to the door first and held it open so nobody got crushed to death, namely yours truly. I got a couple drinks spilled on me and somebody singed my eyelash with particularly nasty Casa Vega. By the time I got out myself Malachi was faded past the crowd into the shadows.

I found myself once again standing outside the building I used to live in, wondering why I always lose a break so fast when I find one. Wondering who else besides Simone and I knows how high the stakes are. Wondering how I can measure what part of this cursed book business is real and what part’s shared delirium when the damn yardstick keeps melting.