Thursday, March 30, 2017

Simone, you bet on the WHAT?

"Dave! I went to watch an underground fight up in New York and you won't believe what they did!"
"It was brutal! I can't believe they brought that critter up from Australia just to throw punches at it!"
"No seriously! I had a couple drinks but I know a damn kangaroo when I see one!"

"You don't believe me? Fine! See if I care!"

Friday, March 24, 2017

Back in the swing

I'm not going to tell you about how I was walking down the streets of New Palermo got thrown in the trunk of a car by some fishy faces and driven back to Innsmouth. And I sure as hell won't tell you what happened there that got the whole place quarantined and how I escaped in the chaos. When I tell you there's things you don't wanna know....seriously, you don't wanna know.

I figured my rent expired. Sure enough when I got to the top floor the door wasn't even where it was. They'd remodeled and subdivided. I warned my sister I was being trailed. I hoped she'd be more relieved than angry about.

It was easy enough finding her at the speak. Simone didn't even give me side glance. I asked her how she was making ends meet since I was gone and she pushed a couple c-notes in my hands and told me to shut the hell up.

Hell I was gone so long some people thought I was new. The old guard recognized me at least. I even got a job doing legal research on night shift at the courthouse. Busy town. Cultist murders, arson, the usual. I even got to nap in the corner a couple hours before the sun comes up.

Yesterday Simone passed me a letter. Address was from "Steelhead Bay". From the Marshall.


"Bloody hell...they rebuilt it!"

Monday, September 28, 2015

The angles of time

Innsmouth, Massachusetts - 186X


Darien and I bolted down the cobblestone streets, dodging terrified townsfolk and maddened horses with empty carriages skittering behind them. That's when we saw it. Several not-eyes spun towards us as it ripped a rib from the carcass of a fallen horse it was crouching over. The bone snapped loudly between its horrendously large jaws.


"What the Hell kind of dog is that!?" I screamed.


"Tindalos!!! Shoot it! Shoot it!"


We unloaded both our pistols into it. To call it a dog doesn't come close to describing it, really. Maybe a malamute put through the meat grinder and squished back into shape with some insect parts thrown in and an extra helping of fangs.


It yiped and turned its long spiked eel of a tail to sprint down the streets of Arkham.


"Did the silver shot help?" I asked. Maybe he'd tell me it was best to let the thing crawl into a hole somewhere and finish bleeding out.


"Not particularly. That's a whole month's bar tab in his gut!"


I chased it for three blocks. I could hear the blood clicking in my ears. My heart was trying to break free from my chest. But the monster seemed to be slowing down in its obscene gait.


"Reload first you fool!"


"Details!"


I pulled my saber, hoping reach the silver first.


"What..?"


It dashed up a hill? No, the road goes downhill! Soon it was over the rooftops.


"It FLIES too?!?"


I traced that trail it left...a sickly color I can't describe because I can't find it in any rainbow on this Earth. I could only stare as it veered up to the top of the lighthouse and vanished with the glare of the spinning beams.


My sword clattered as I threw it to the pavement.


"It got away! Bloody hell it GOT AWAY!"


Darien laid a hand on my shoulder.


"It caught our scent. It's going to lick its wounds then come back for us."


He pulled off his rubber gloves and ripped off his mask.


"This is my fault," Darien said. "This is all my fault."


I looked up at him, fully expecting another rediculous plan.





We were back in the lighthouse where its lantern battery was also powering his so-called revolutionary invention. I was helping double check all the cables on his galvic something or other plugged into the spotlight


"Galvanic Tesseractor."


"Yes whatever you call it, Darien. How are we going to kill this thing?"


"We have to make sure it doesn't surprise us first."


As he pulled a lever I could feel the hairs on back of my head rise up.


"It's going to double back after it heals to this very spot, and from there hunt us down to the ends of the Earth. The only way to survive this is to split up."


"How far do we have to go?"


"Out of this timestream."


"You're joking."


"I wish I was."


He turned a dial and the stone around us began to vibrate.


"Massivitus levels balanced..."


"Darien. Where are we going?"


"If we go together it will still hunt us down anywhere, anywhen. Like I said we need to split up."


He pulled the lever up and down a few more times, measuring the pulses on a clipboard.


"Fine, where do I meet you and when?"


"Where is right here. I haven't figured out how to move through both time and space yet safely for humans."


He grabbed the beer bottle next to the voltaic pile and finished it, tossing it off the tower.


"Look, David...when you come out there will be a ripple effect. Time will readjust itself like a lady's ruffles after she..."


"We're not discussing Atlantic City again! Alright...I won't remember going through. We...won't be a team anymore."


Darien nodded hesitantly. "Well... Not like this."


"And why do I have to go? I mean if you built this damn thesis experiment in the first place then you should..."


"Exactly! If I go through then this thing was never built! Time can’t fix up a hole that..."


We both heard that sickening growl again.


"Hurry! Step into the Qlippothic Projector!"


"The what?"


"The LIGHT you idiot!"


"But I..."


I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and told him what I was afraid to tell him since we first met in freshman orientation. Then half a minute of being too close for words. That's all I had.


"I know, David. Me too. I'm so sorry."


The growl again, I swear I caught wind of its unearthly stench. He pushed me as hard as he could with both hands and I fell backwards into the blinding heat of the lighthouse lantern.


"GO!"



"Where am I? What the blazes are you?"

"I am Aeon. You're inside the Clock."

"What am I doing here?" 

"Didn't the Doctor send you? I have to readjust to put you back. Someplace wound a bit tighter, but not too tight. There will still be room for the little gears to spin their magic, when you find them..."

"I don't understand..."

"You haven't had your hour yet. Go back through the lantern. Things will be different when you get back. Forward a century. Gears rearranged, but still the same. With one replacement."

"I must be dreaming."

"Perhaps you are. But this isn't any less real than the lantern house, where you shall return in 3...2...1..."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

From Nevermoor to Ravenwood

The Green Fairy Cabaret. It's very green. That's Zoe in the back and Lady Moldlylocks dancing with.

I was trying to get a handle on what happened to Steelhead exactly. I heard all kinds of crazy rumors. 

The St. Helens volcano finally had the big one. 

A flood washed it away like Ambertown before it. 

Evil turkeys run amok. 

The demons from Steelhead's past rose up and fought over it until there was nothing but burnt logs to fight over. 

The Masons came back and lost a fight with a giant crab that took up the whole harbor. 

A superhero lifted the whole acreage up with his bare hands and flew off to drop it on another planet for safekeeping 

He stuffed it in a tiny bottle for his curio cabinet on the North Pole. 

Yeah, somebody was pulling my leg. That’s the last time I trade whisky shots for tips.

I rang up Marshal Ortega again and asked him for the real scoop.

“Steelhead didn’t end," he said. "We just don’t have a place to take photos for our stories.”

Well you can't say he's not dedicated. He tells me he's already got a new spot to host his shindigs. In case you're not familiar with his operation, Krypton Radio, they do a lot of sci-fi radio plays and play corny songs of the Spike Jones variety. 

He tells me Miss Zoe, the lady who owned the absinthe house I slipped into before, was still running her speakeasy. I hauled it back to what used to be Nevermoor. They were replacing the signs to say Ravenwood Forest. I saw a lot of familiar faces. Looks like this is a rallying point for evicted Steelheaders.

I waltz into the aptly named Green Fairy and there she is floating with her pink wings on. I somebody I know - an almost-shrink by the name of Moldylocks. She's one of those eccentric Babbage types. I'll write a page on her later. 

She’s quibbling up there with that flying guy in the tights - I think his name is Cal - over which overpowering shade of green tiles to use to match the overpowering green walls and matching curtains. Cal seems to get real nervous around green rocks for some reason. I interject.

"You know most absinthe is yellow, right?"

She floats down and we start yakking. She’s got big plans for bringing this secluded magic patch into the 20th century. Progress! Well, still too many trees if you ask me. And still a lot magic floating around - this is the kind of place where you could sit in the wrong chair and end up someplace a mile higher than you started. She tells me they’re starting to have problems with fairy gangsters -- and by fairies I mean magic folks with wings like the one I’m talking to. Just making that clear. Seems they're gettin' into the fairy dust business. Now I don't know exactly what it does besides what Mother Goose says but there's obviously a black market for it. Yes, things should get very interesting here real fast.

As long as I’m in town I go to the phone book and ring up one of the Doc’s contacts who runs some kind of factory in Caledon. Some doll – of the clockwork variety - named Fauve Aeon. I gave her the bad news about the Masons and she was calm, but sad. I think she’s the only one I talked to that missed the demon more than any of them. Most people still won't even say the guy's name. I told her I thought I saw him wearing crimefighter tights in backstreet Berlin and she had a good laugh. I asked her as being one of the Doll Queens if she knew if any of the Doc’s pretty inventions were still ticking. Especially the stabby ones. She gave me an honest answer – no idea. At this point I’m going to assume they all ran down or broke down. She said if I ever need to get stitched up to give her a knock. Yeah, I've read about her work. If my legs get cut off I’ll certainly come running.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A little off the back

    
Finn Jr., Finn Sr., Mr. Chance and that guy in the middle.

 So before Mr. Finn’s kid invited me for to his Pop’s shop for a free haircut so I decided to take him up on it. Nice place as you can see. While Mr. Finn gave me a trim and a shave we start talking. He tells me about Farson and how there was a quake that broke the dam and flooded out what was left. I told him that’s kind of like what Steelhead’s going through, but I suspect that volcano will blow any day now.
 
     Little Finn's a nice kid but at 14 he’s too young to smoke. He also needs to button up his shirt and go to charm school while he’s at it. While we’re yakking this guy with an Appalachian drawl thick as molasses wanders in with a holster taking up the whole side of his thigh. I thought he might have been a lawman but that’s not the case. More of a businessman. I didn’t ask details but the moon was shining bright if you know what I mean. 

     Guy's name is Chance. Turns out he’s a big gun collector. By which I mean he collects big guns. Cannons even. And he likes to practice shooting abandoned crates off the pier. Holy smokes. Should I tell them they sometimes smuggle people in those things? Where was this guy when I needed backup in Innsmouth?

     Speaking of canon, Finn Sr. asks me about my back story. Great. Now I gotta make one up. Here goes nothing.

     The Littman family had old money from Virginia tobacco. We lived on an old plantation that my grandpa foreclosed on after the previous occupants went missing during the so-called War of Northern Aggression. My Pop was a lawyer and helped in the military court during the Great War. He made his way to military judge. A real spit-and-polish no-nonsense kind of guy. He made my sister Simonetta and I line up for inspection each morning before breakfast. That’s why when I had my fill of it and split to go round up cattle out West he hired some goons to haul my skinny kosher cowboy keister back east and throw me into law school. Miskatonic freaking University of all places. I think he has some deal with that Mason family on the other side of the Line that we’ve known for generations because their boy Darien ended up being my roommate. Nice kid if you could take all the drama. Ever get the feeling somebody’s been planning out your whole life behind the scenes?  Yeah, me neither. 

     After Pop died we sold most of the land and kept the mansion. Simonetta’s still there. After managing what was left of the estate she’s gone into the art trading business and seems to be holding up okay. Meanwhile I’m the one with massive school debt and being stalked by loansharks with real gills.

     Well finally I walk out while Chance is showing off his motorcycle so I can’t hear myself think. At least I look good enough now to find a real job. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Welcome to New Palermo

     I already took an unexpected risk taking the kid into that lab. Yes he might have seen more danger than I already have in my posh middle-class life but he’s not getting killed on my watch. I left James in Steelhead for a while since all the scamps I ran into told me it’s a safer place to run around in than New Babbage, and except when they all get rounded up for schooling once a week it’s all hunky-dory. Miss Blue promised me James could have all the grub he wants. The more he eats the better, and it takes him off my back for a bit.

     I got on the train at the Steelhead station heading east. It took me a couple days. That’s when I found out Miss Blue of all people left me a bundle in my briefcase, and not just dinner rolls. She must be the best if not only baker in town! Along the way I sat next to a salesman from Philomena who gave me a great deal on an olive trench coat. The fedora didn’t quite match but he threw it in for free.  I needed to look a little more fashion-forward when I got back east. Once I got to Trenton I hitched a cab to New Polermo. 

     Like I said before most of the townsfolk were from another town that got flooded out. The cab driver was going bonkers from all the construction so I got out early and let him keep the change. After the train ride I needed to stretch my legs. There was so much construction you’d think the Depression was already over. More roads than not were blocked by cranes and streets were filled with the smoke and stink of hot tar. If I was a bricklayer I could be working triple shifts. 

     So I’m wandering through the streets for a couple hours since nobody thought to put up the street signs yet. Around 6 o’clock I noticed some poor sod left his silver Caddy out and the roads around him got ripped up so he had to park on the sidewalk by the barber shop. Right next to the stuffed bear with the fez. I guess when people can’t drive to your business you get desperate for advertising.  Well the advertising must have worked because there was a ruckus on the street corner with people standing around. There was a paperboy selling the first new rag of the city and I guess there was an informal celebration which turned into a gossip fest and airing of laundry. Who needs a newspaper when you got a tongue-wagging crowd like this?

     Hoo boy if I thought these guys weren’t gonna be my neighbors the things I could tell you. Just suffice to say that my time in Berlin taught me a few things, and I could tell this one British dame that had just high-tailed outta Berlin did for all the right reasons and just the right time. Most of the crowd was in on a little surprise she was hiding except apparently her main squeeze. A some point he’s gonna be real surprised, either that or he already knows but is so proud he’s playing it…well he acts like it’s all peachy keen. I may be a lawyer but I think that wedding is gonna set some major precedents. Little Miss Drama huffs off and we all breeze to the local watering hole, where they only serve tea. It took me another few days to find the local pool, and there I learn about the other watering hole where the sparks really fly.   
  
     Later while I’m schmoozing I met a guy and his dame who might be the Mayor or a least came up with the idea of starting a new town. I also met the guy who runs the local rag and he asked if I want to take the beat. Why not? I could use a half-steady salary and it fits in with my line of work. 

     Later that night some kid asked if I was looking for a place to sleep. Well sure my coat was wrinkled from the train but I’m no hobo. I told him I was staying at boarding house just outside of town until I could get closer in. He tells me he’s the barber’s son and tells me his Mom is the one with the lousy parking skills and his Dad is the one who shot that bear. No it wasn’t wearing the fez at the time. No neither was he. Save that gag for the Marx Brothers. At the city limits I ran into a dame looking over a plot of land, she told me she’s building a boarding house and offers me a pamphlet. I told her I’ll give it serious consideration.