Saturday, August 25, 2012

THE COLD INSIDE (a serial novel) Chapter Sixteen part two

The Cold Inside

Chapter Sixteen

part two


Thursday November 24, 1994

“Your problem is that you think you're going to be fifteen years old forever.”

“I'm sixteen Dad.”

The steakhouse was part of a national chain, its faux-wood interior was designed to give it a rustic log cabin feel. The Thanksgiving crowd was thick but subdued and it was wall to wall families. The minute he had heard where they were going Tristam had felt a twinge a dread. One of the many things he'd learned from his weekend visits with his father was that he was only brought to nice restaurants if there was going to be a lecture of some kind. Diners and burger joints were always a sign that a fun, spontaneous evening lay ahead. This place was a five star restaurant and Tristam wasn't sure he was going to make it to the dessert tray with his sanity intact.

“Don't change the subject on me. You get in fights, you cut class- you know why? Because you're ungrateful and impatient.”

Tristam shifted in his seat “I didn't cut class, that was all a big misunderstanding…”

“Misunderstanding?” His father poked angrily at his salad. Gawain Wight wore a white dress shirt and a black tie; his suit jacket was slung over the back of his chair. He was clean-shaven, with blond hair that was streaked with gray. “Don't sit there and act all innocent with me now, not after the nonsense you pulled over the summer. You mean to tell me you haven’t been into some kind of mischief? I can see it in your eyes.”

“You could believe Mom, she's the one that told you I didn't cut class.”

“Can't you listen? Would it hurt you to just sit there and listen to me?”


“Youth is wasted on the young, you know that? Look, I didn't bring you here to browbeat you.”

Tristam bit his tongue. Could have fooled me.

The waitress brought their entrees, she grinned and batted her eyes at Gawain. They spent a few moments flirting while Tristam watched with amazement.

How does he do that?

They ate in silence for a time but Tristam couldn't enjoy his steak or the quiet because he didn’t know if his father was finished with his lecture or regrouping for another assault.

Gawain set his fork down and drew breath, “I just want you to grow up right. My father was dead and buried for seven years by the time I was your age. There was so much he never got to warn me about. I never wanted you to make the same kind of mistakes I did.”

Don’t worry Dad I'm making fresh new mistakes.

An electronic beeping issued from inside his father's suit coat, he reached back and retrieved his cellular phone. “Just a minute son I've been expecting this.”

“Whatever.” Tristam rolled his eyes.

“Thalia? Thalia is that you?” Gawain stuck his finger in his free ear, “Of course, you just sound different.”

It was at moments like this when Tristam wondered why they bothered. He was a burden, an unplanned consequence and they both knew it. So why did the man insist on trying to have these stereotypical fatherhood moments that never worked out?

“I'm with my son. You know…. You don't? He's sixteen going on seven,” Gawain laughed.

I would love to smack you. Tristam glared down at his plate, You don't know me. You don't know what I'm going through. You don't know what you put me through. All you do is judge me.

“So, did you find anything out? What do you mean? Where did he go?”

And to top it all off I'm having steak on Thanksgiving! Who in their right mind has steak on Thanksgiving? Tristam thought as he chewed, this was just another in a long series of letdowns. He wondered how his Mom and sister were doing; they were having dinner with Ronnie Miller's super rich parents. Maybe I should have gone with them. Maybe I should have just stayed home.

“Who's on it? Him? Why don't you take over? Oh... Oh... Yeah, I forgot.”

Tristam felt his father's eyes flicker to him and then down to the floor. Oh here we go. I can hear it now- ‘Sorry to do this son…’

“OK. OK. Watch your back. Later.” Gawain set the phone down on the table and turned his attention back to his meal. “Sorry about that.”

“You're a busy man.”

“Yeah, too busy I think.” He frowned, “I'm sorry to do this son but I have to cut our evening short. No movie tonight, I have to drop you off after dinner.”

“I kinda figured,” Tristam shrugged.

“It's not that I'm trying to punish you, it's just work. I hope you can understand that.”

I wish I could believe you. Tristam looked at his father, Thing is old Dad o'mine I have a strange feeling that you find my company as uncomfortable as I find yours.

They stared at each other for a few moments, then Gawain took a long drink from his glass of wine and asked, “It looks like you've got something on your mind son.”

“Well,” Tristam said, “I do have a question.”


“Are you like the only FBI agent in twenty miles or something?

His father seemed to flinch a little at the question “No. No of course not, but my skills are much in demand.”

“Why? What do you do? I never really understood that.” Tristam cut himself another mouthful of steak and chewed thoughtfully.

“I…” Gawain leaned back in his seat, “I analyze evidence. I help with investigations that have become sidetracked. I notice things other people sometimes miss.”

“Are you like in the X-Files or something?”

Gawain pursed his lips, “I told you before I don’t like you watching that show. It gives a completely distorted view of the Federal government, the kind you can only get from paranoid Hollywood liberals.”

“Dad, it's a TV show.”

“Garbage in, garbage out. You should spend more time reading books. When I was your age I already had a job, I wasn't spending my weekends playing Dragons and Dungeons.”

Groaning inwardly Tristam settled in for a fresh lecture.

Click Here To Continue

Since I am not going to have internet access for a few days...

...I am going to post Monday's installment of THE COLD INSIDE today...

Friday, August 24, 2012

The car needs repairs, the cable just got shut off and I want a canoli! But how can you help?

Leave a donation if you can be a patron of the arts... this blog does count as art doesn't it?

All donors will be listed on the PATRONS' PAGE!

Recommended Double Feature: BASKET CASE and THE BROOD

Two films that will gross you out and weird you out in equal parts, two films that I think should be more appreciated by mainstream audiences and two films that always remind me of my youth in all kinds of ways...

As per IMDB the plot for BASKET CASE "A young man carrying a big basket that contains his deformed Siamese-twin brother seeks vengeance on the doctors who separated them against their will."

And here comes the trailer...

When I first read about BASKET CASE I was around thirteen or fourteen, every review said it was the sickest, worst movie in years so of course I just had to see it. Now I agree BASKET CASE is sick but I don't think of it as a bad movie, in fact I think it is pretty darn good. BASKET CASE boasts a cast of eccentric and memorable characters, some moments that are pretty darn funny and other moments that are strange and sweet. The movie may not have had a budget but it has ten times the heart of any Michael Bay movie.

Also Terri Susan Smith somehow reminds me of my high school sweetheart...

As per IMDB the plot of THE BROOD: "A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist's therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband's investigation."

The trailer (Movie trailers were so damn different back then weren't they?)

Cronenberg first came to our attention with movies like this but he never let himself be pinned down by any one genre or idea. That being said this early film really showcases his facination with body and emotional horrors aplenty. What is really scarier? Killer mutants or knowing your Mom has gone right off the deep end? The film is a slow burn and some of the folks I have shown it to found the early parts of the film too slow paced but that's just Cronenberg laying the groundwork for what becomes a real piece of grand guignol.

And yes this film does make me think back to my childhood in a lot of ways. All kids can be monsters... little brothers especially.

Why not check out my friend's blog 'Life of a Developer'

I don't mean to be a sap but does the trailer for HOLLOW feature a killer tree?


No comments:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Damnit Zoidberg! That was uncalled for!


Don't let Zoidberg get the final word. Visit and comment on my blog often!

If you've ever wanted to see Amy Pond wearing the 6th Doctor's coat...



Damnit I wanted the 6th Doctor's coat!

Playing For Tommaso - an excerpt from THE COLD INSIDE

Playing For Tommaso

an excerpt from



Saturday November 5, 1994

The sun was lost behind the crowded Albany skyline but its pale yellow illumination lingered on, radiating between the buildings and through the crowded streets. It was getting cold again, that last bit of autumn before winter. It wouldn’t be long before coats gave way to parkas and sneakers gave way to heavy boots but at least for a few more weekends Adelphos would be able to ride his brother’s bicycle home. He rode fast, slaloming from the sidewalk to the road and back again, racing through the shadows that pooled around the buildings.

Homework and dinner leftovers were waiting for him. Adelphos would finish both off tonight because his Sunday was already booked. His father gave him Saturdays off but Sundays, and every weekday after school, his ass belonged to the family business.

A decade ago Adelphos’ father had bought the WEST ALBANY PAWN AND ANTIQUES from its ailing owner. It wasn’t much to look at, a dingy hole in the wall located in one of Albany’s rougher neighborhoods. Most of the Chavez family thought Camilo was crazy to squander his savings in such a way but Camilo knew better. Right away he started making changes, downplaying the pawnshop aspect of the store and concentrating on old books and antiques. He stocked the shop with merchandise he’d been acquiring for years. Adelphos’ father had always had a nose for antiques; each piece he found he restored as best he could. Bargain-hunters and antique-hounds alike began to notice. Within the first year the store had changed so much that Camilo decided to change the sign as well, his eldest son Tommaso picked a name that the whole family thought was perfect; TRASH AND TREASURES.

TRASH AND TREASURES became the focus of the Chavez family’s life; Camilo worked there from open to close on the weekdays with Adelphos, Tommaso and their mother filled in whenever time allowed. Every weekend Adelphos and his older brother were left in charge while Camilo went out hunting for fresh collectables at garage sales and flea markets.

Over the course of four years the business thrived, eventually expanding to the point where it could afford to move to a better location. TRASH AND TREASURES now occupied a large storefront in one of Albany’s more trafficked shopping plazas. It’s inventory was one part antiques, one part used books, one part old videos and CDs and a little bit of everything else.

Adelphos paused at a busy intersection and waited for the light to change. A cop car slowed as it drove past him but didn’t stop or give him any trouble. Thank Jesus for that, getting patted down once a year was just fine by him. The light changed, he started pedaling again.

Memories of minding the store with Tommaso always made him smile. Most of the time he’d wandered around straightening shelves and keeping watch for the sticky-fingered neighborhood kids. He let his brother man the cash register. Between every customer his nose was buried in a book. Tommaso always loved books, any kind of book; science fiction, comics, horror, true crime, history, even those cheesy romance novels. He would read it and he would read it fast. He could devour one of those thick Stephen King books in two days.

It was one of the benefits of having a genius IQ and that wasn’t just bragging, all the tests and retests made it obvious that Camilo’s oldest son was headed for glory. Adelphos wasn’t jealous, he was proud.

It was growing darker, yellow daylight giving way to purple dusk. Already the moon and Venus were visible, soon the constellations would reveal themselves in all their pale glory. The Big Dipper, Orion the Hunter and all the rest, Tommaso had taught him how to recognize them on a camping trip years ago.

Crossing the street on his brother’s bicycle Adelphos kept a wary eye out for traffic, his goal nearly in sight. He’d dawdled too long at Greg’s but it had been a great game of Dungeons & Dragons and great games always made the group talkative. They would reminisce about past adventures and scenes from books and movies they loved. Sometimes Adelphos found it sad that for Warren, Rich and Drew some of their fondest memories of adolescence were going to be of things that never happened.

High school had been rough on his brother as well. The public school was a disaster area, vandalism was common, fire alarms were pulled almost monthly and the brainy kids were objects of derision and abuse. It had always been hard for Tommaso, his slender build and gentle nature set him aparts, made him a target. As he grew older it only got worse. At first he’d wanted desperately to be accepted but as the years ground on he simply wanted to be left alone.

The Chavez family did what they could, Ramona consoled her oldest son and Camilo tried to teach him how to fight, but Tommaso was no fighter. Complaints were made to the principal and vice principal countless times but both men seemed to view the whole situation as a waste of time. Their only advice was to encourage the boy to stay quiet and keep to himself, to try and blend in.

“Damn.” Adelphos whispered angrily as he pedaled the last few yards. The front gate of the cemetery was already closed. “Too late.” Too late to use his shortcut this week. Straddling his brother’s bicycle he stared through the bars of the tall wrought iron fence.

Slowly, over the course of two years, Adelphos watched his brother wilt away. Tommaso became a wraith-like figure, going to and from school, going to and from work but never looking up, never speaking in complete sentences. Finally, one day he reached his breaking point.

Once news of his brother’s leap from the rooftop of an Albany office building got out there were assemblies, grief councilors and a whole page set-aside in the yearbook but it was all for show. Tommaso’s classmates never really cared about him. He was nothing more to them than a punchline; The skinny spic from the honor roll that thought he could fly.

Adelphos ran his bare hands along the icy metal fenceposts and thought to himself how much he’d like to run into one of those jerks now. He had never been one to walk away from a fight. When he reached high school the year after his brother’s literal and figurative fall, he would see kids getting picked on because they were too meek, too skinny or too smart and he couldn’t stand for it. Six fights in one semester got him expelled from his brother’s old high school. Five more got him kicked out of a different high school a year later.

That was when his father decided to send him to Blessed Heart, to try and ‘Straighten him out’. But all Adelphos found at the fancy school was that rich kids could be even bigger jerks than poor kids could. He could have sat at any table he wanted, the Pretty Boys invited him to join their ranks, and Linda Kaspary invited him to one of her parties. But Adelphos could see how fake their smiles were, he knew he was just a novelty. He found himself gravitating towards the kids they called Smudge, Graveyard, Tubbo, Sadam Jr., and Dick Head.

It was almost night now. The glare of headlights, streetlights and neon signs made the constellations seem pale and washed out. Adelphos started pedaling again, taking the long way. He was opening the store tomorrow, his father would be by during lunch. Maybe they would talk, but probably they wouldn’t. His father didn’t talk that much any more.

The last part of the way home was up a steep hill. Adelphos switched gears on his brother’s bike and pushed hard against the pedals. He remembered his childhood, how he and Tommaso would spend whole summer afternoons on this hill, riding their bikes all the way to the very top and then zooming back down to the bottom again. It had been like having their own private roller coaster.

Halfway there the heat began to build in his muscles. It felt good, it kept him from thinking. He focused on his breathing and before he knew it he was there. The first house at the top of the hill was his home. Gliding into his yard he carefully parked his brother’s bicycle in the garage. His mother’s car wasn’t there, but his father’s car was. A familiar weight settling onto his shoulders Adelphos made his way up the long ramp that lead to his front door.

His father was already in bed. Classical music was drifting in from Tomasso’s room, filling the house. Adelphos recognized it as Brahms. He shouldered out of his backpack and removed the hardcover Dungeons & Dragons books, Tommaso’s books. He’d always been into these kinds of games, it seemed like he had one of every kind on his bookshelves, but he’d never been able to find anyone to play with. Occasionally he would run a game for his younger brother but Adelphos hadn’t never seen the point.

Adelphos stepped into his brother’s room thinking Now I play. Now I play for both of us.

The shelves in his brother’s room were crowded with books, a card table with medical supplies was up against the window. The Brahms was issuing from a state of the art stereo system, a recent Christmas gift. Adelphos put the Dungeons and Dragons books back on the appropriate shelf and sat down on the edge of his brother’s bed. He smiled, “Hey buddy.”

Tomasso’s eyes flickered with recognition at the sight of his brother but there was no way he could get out of the massive wheeled chair to shake his hand, there was no way he could shout a greeting; he couldn’t even crack a smile. The fall had left his every movement a palsied struggle.

“It was a great game tonight. We ran late.” Adelphos continued, “My Ranger made eighth level and we finally raided the Lich’s tomb...”

MIGHTYGODKING gives us the cover for the greatest comic that never will be!

Some stomach-twisting album covers courtesy of RETROSPACE...

And it looks like we will finally get a chance to see SOLOMON KANE too!

The long delayed SOLOMON KANE will finally hit theaters on September 28th, and will be available on video on demand starting this Friday August 24th. Thanks to Dread Central we have a new trailer, the U.S. poster and a couple stills from the James Purefoy vehicle...


We will be able to see if JOHN DIES AT THE END this December!

Magnet Releasing, which is the genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, is planning to release the film in the U.S. via various Video On Demand platforms in late December, with a limited theatrical release to follow in early 2013....


The book was awesome the movie could be EPIC!


And a special thanks to my friend Sam Hunt for finally getting me to read David Wong's fantastic novel...

The only thing crazier than the trailer for COMPLIANCE is the fact that it is inspired by something that actually happened!


DOCTOR WHO STARTS SEPTEMBER 1ST! (and before that we get POND LIFE!)

Let's start with the TRAILER...

Now lets learn about POND LIFE...

Here is some artwork for the 50th Anniversary...

And this is a neat mashup fan video by LastWhovian

Monday, August 20, 2012

(Recommended Reads) The Yellow Sign and other stories By Robert W. Chambers (S.T. Joshi Editor)

The Yellow Sign
and other stories
Robert W. Chambers
S.T. Joshi Editor
It begins for me with Hastur

You see years ago, when I was in Junior High, my parents got me TSRs Deities and Demigods as a Christmas present. It was a mythology-based supplement for the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. The book gave you all kinds of information about Norse, Greek and Chinese gods and monsters, but it also had details about certain fantasy writer's mythologies. This was how I learned about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Elric and his cursed blade Stormbringer and the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft.

Let me tell you something about life changing events- a body doesn't forget his first glimpse of Cthulhu!

It was also in that section of the rules that I spotted the illustration by the great Erol Otus of a giant wormy dinosaur thing,
The book told me that this guy was Cthulhu's half-brother Hastur and if your 12th Level Elven Freemason even so much as whispered his name Hastur might show up and wreak all sorts of mad god havoc.

That idea and image stuck in my mind for some time.

As the years went on I graduated from reading about Lovecraft's strange mythos in gaming supplements to actually reading the stories themselves. Now if you are any kind of horror fan I don't have tot ell you that those were great stories but the thing is Hastur The Unspeakable isn't in any of them.

Hastur is mentioned once in Lovecraft's tale 'The Whisperer In The Darkness'. One time, in one sentence, that's it. In fact here is the very sentence;
"I found myself faced by names and terms that I had heard elsewhere in the most hideous of connections - Yuggoth, Great Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, R'lyeh, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Hastur, Yian, Leng, the Lake of Hali, Bethmoora, the Yellow Sign, L'mur-Kathulos, Bran, and the Magnum Innominandum - and was drawn back through nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions to worlds of elder, outer entity at which the crazed author of the Necronomicon had only guessed in the vaguest way."

I would later find out that August Derleth, a member of Lovecraft's literary circle, just kind of took that name and ran with it. He made up his own little 'Hastur Mythos' as a part of Lovecraft's mythos. Some might consider this a blasphemy but I don't, it seems like everyone wants to add a new annex to the house that Lovecraft built- even me.

Years later I was working on a story and in it I had a very prissy wizard who when he cursed would take Hastur's name in vein, it got me thinking about the Unspeakable one again. Wouldn't my work be more interesting if I knew more about Hastur?

It was an almost creepy coincidence that I came across a anthology called The Hastur Cycle published by Chaosium Inc. It collected a good number of the stories that explored the Hastur mythology.

The anthology contained two stories by Robert W. Chambers and thanks to the editor's notes I would discover that while Derleth might have been building on Lovecraft's work, Lovecraft had to a certain degree been building on the work of Chambers. Hastur, the Lake of Hali, and the Yellow Sign were all references to Robert W. Chamber's classic anthology of weird fiction The King In Yellow. (Furthermore, the term Hastur itself is taken from the works of Ambrose Bierce- but we are not going to get into that!)

So this is how I came to discover the King In Yellow and the Yellow Sign but we only get two of Robert W. Chamber's stories in The Hastur Cycle. I was intrigued by what I read and wanted more, a quick web search showed me that some of his works, particularly the King In Yellow- themed ones were available online. Still I wanted more.

When I found out that Chaosium was bringing out an anthology that collected all of Robert W. Chambers' weird tales into one volume I was more than a little excited.

Why you ask? Because here was an author coming out of the tail end of the Victorian era who was writing the kind of off the wall material that authors like Thomas Ligotti and Patrick McGrath are doing now. It's one thing to hear the Eagles version of 'Ol 55', it's another thing to hear the original version by Tom Waits.

Enough backstory, let me tell you about the anthology.

Its a thick volume, about 645 pages of small text, its not so small as to give you eyestrain but it is a little intimidating in an English Textbook sort of way. The anthology contains excepts from five of Robert W. Chambers' story collections and the complete text of two of his novel-length works. I will examine each of these seven volumes separately then I will comment on my overall opinion of the collection.

The anthology opens up with an overview of Robert W. Chambers' career by Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi. It is detailed and helps give us an understanding of why this formerly best selling author is almost unknown today. Then we move into Chambers' most remembered work The King In Yellow. Each of the six stories have an almostTwilight Zone kind of surrealism going for them and several of them are linked by the presence of the blasphemous, chock-fulla-madness play The King In Yellow. The two standouts here are 'The Repairer of Reputations' and 'The Yellow Sign' both have this strange otherworldly quality to them and you are left wondering if the events described really occurred or if the narrator was simply stark raving mad. 'Repairer...' does a particularly good job of this; creating a cast of characters that are as twisted as the world they inhabit. The other stories in this book are all involving and enjoyable but I was left feeling ambivalent about the prose poems included under the title 'The Prophets Paradise'.

In The Maker of Moons there are two novellas, one shares its title with the volume, the second is called a 'Pleasant Evening', both stories worked very well but were occasionally be dragged down by authors penchant for syrupy melodrama. ''The Maker of Moons' almost reminded me of a Lovecraft story in many ways. The story begins with an investigation into something odd but innocuous but this investigation leads to the discovery of a strange conspiracy and nightmarish otherworldly creatures. By the end of the story the protagonists are reduced to horrified observers as insanity erupts around them. The other nice thing about 'The Maker of Moons' is the wry sense of humor revealed in some of the scenes, it makes a nice counterpoint to the stranger elements of the story. (I liked this story so much that I referenced it in 'Shadows of Polaris')

The stories in The Mystery of Choice vacillate between comedy, mystery and horror. The first four stories the main characters are an artist and his sweetheart and they seem to blunder in all kinds of trouble, heck all the needed was a dog and a van and they'd be all set. Yoiks! The remaining tales in 'The Mystery of Choice' I think exemplify the author's weaknesses, when he gets pointless he gets pretty damn pointless. I know I read both 'The White Shadow' and 'The Key To Grief' but I couldn't tell you a darn thing about either of them.

Moving on to In Search of the Unknown we get comedy adventure with a dash of weirdness. The best analogy I can come up with for the flavor of these stories is the style of X-Files more lighthearted episodes. The main character is a zoologist on a quest to find rare and lost species of animals- I guess that makes him a cryptozoologist huh? The novel is very episodic in nature, each section of the book showing the quest for a different creature. Chambers prose is still flawless but the humor tends to vary from clever to painful.
The anthology then gives us an excerpt from The Tracer of Lost Persons. The book itself is another episodic affair about a man that tracks down the lost loves of lonely gentlemen.

Wasn't this a TV series once?

Anyway the chapters shown to us are from a story that hinges on the idea of reincarnation. A nice piece but not as strong as 'The Repairer of Reputations' or 'The Maker of Moons'.

The stories in The Tree of Heaven are a refreshing return to the style of The King in Yellow but while the themes of the previous work seemed to be concerned with madness and mystery, the Tree of Heaven's stories all seem to hinge on love and death. I found 'The Carpet of Belshazzar' to be particularly haunting.

The collection concludes with another of Chamber's fantasy-humor concoctions Police!!! It shows us the further adventures of In Search of the Unknown's bumbling protagonist but I found this tale to be too much of a rehash of what had come before. I don't even think they needed to include this material to give me a full glimpse into the scope of Robert W. Chamber's creativity. For my money they should have just wrapped things up with The Tree of Heaven stories.

That was a bit of a harsh note to conclude on so please don't think that I'm not going to recommend this anthology because I am. There were some really great stories in this anthology and I think that a fan of horror and fantasy can appreciate it as both entertainment and a glimpse into the roots of modern weird fiction.

Rest In Peace Phillis Diller

You were one funny lady and and you will always be the Bride of the Monster from MAD MONSTER PARTY to me...


Comedian Phyllis Diller -- who paved the way for today's female comics -- has died, TMZ has learned.

Sources close to Diller tell us the comedian died at her L.A. home, surrounded by family. She was 95...

for more visit TMZ


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Speaking of Lovecraft... MY GOD IT ALL MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!!!!!

Some teasers for AMERICAN HORROR STORY season 2...


Subtitled American Horror Story: Asylum, season two is set against the backdrop of a nun-run institution for the criminally insane, and stars Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, James Cromwell and Sarah Paulson. Nuns, as we all know, are scary. Nuns in institutions for the criminally insane? Trouser-browning...

THE ABADDON continues its journey of glorious confusion.

PROJECT ROOFTOP gives us Cary Polkovitz’s Batman!

In honor of the old man from Providence's birthday... Hp Lovecraft. HP LOVECRAFT EVERYWHERE!!!!

"From my experience I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know, and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking. From those blurred and fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon."

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
“From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.”
"There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we listen and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life."
“Contrary to what you may assume, I am not a pessimist but an indifferentist- that is, I don't make the mistake of thinking that the... cosmos... gives a damn one way or the the other about the especial wants and ultimate welfare of mosquitoes, rats, lice, dogs, men, horses, pterodactyls, trees, fungi, dodos, or other forms of biological energy.”
“I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men.”
“The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.”

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

THE COLD INSIDE (a serial novel) Chapter Sixteen part one

The Cold Inside

Chapter Sixteen

part one


Thursday November 24, 1994

The sun was low in the sky, its light obscured by tattered clouds. The branches of the bare trees hung heavy with frost, even as the immaculately trimmed grass that surrounded them seemed to almost shine with an unnatural greenness. Rivulets of ice curved down the face of each gravestone, tracing patterns in the engraved letters and etched saints.





The names floated past Tristam as he wound his way between the tombstones. If he had been wearing his body now he might have shivered; it was that old childhood dare come to life.

Would you walk through a cemetery at sunset?

Ordinarily he wouldn't have. Simply flying too close to a graveyard had always left him with a sickly feeling. It was the same feeling of being exposed he got from, even flying close to graveyards left him with a sickly feeling. Besides there had been lots more exciting places to spy on, why would he ever bother with a cemetery?

But now he had to be here.

It was homework.

The headstones continued to scroll past; some were eroded with age, some were as recent as this year. Tristam had never really considered the enormity of death, but now he was almost overwhelmed. Each stone was a life, it made left Tristam full of somber questions. Did any of the bodies buried here in the cold ground know peace? Had their final moments been tinged with any kind of understanding or had there only been terror? How many died hoping that something better was waiting for them?

Maybe there is something better. Tristam turned in mid air, Maybe this proves it.

Nothingness or judgment. Tristam couldn’t decide which idea he found less appealing. At least with oblivion you knew what to expect and knew it was fair. Judgment however was another matter; would an all powerful God be full of forgiveness or condemnation? Try as he might Tristam found the thought of being chided by a doorkeeper angel somehow too ridiculous.






Tristam froze in place, hovering over the row of headstones. Dumas? Somebody actually had the last name Dumas and didn't legally change it?

And I thought I got picked on. Imagine what this kid went through.

“You done lollygaggin'?”

Tristam spun in midair. A few yards away was the section of the cemetery that seemed to be reserved for the more ostentatious memorials. Phil Dowd stood near one of the mausoleums, a cigarette dangling from his lips.

“I’m here.” Tristam replied. The art of communicating had been Phil's first lesson. It was a hard thing, to learn to speak by thought alone, it was like learning to speak a foreign language.

Phil inhaled deeply on his cigarette and motioned for Tristam to approach, “I noticed. You zip along like a firefly.”

“Sorry I was trying to find you but dumass...” Tristam scowled. The problem now was that when he tried to speak he sometimes ended up saying more than he wanted. “I mean I was trying to find you sorry.”

“Well you couldn't could you?” Phil smiled, “That's cause you're a stupid kid and you don’t know shit. Good thing I like you.”

“Good thing.” Tristam agreed, but he knew that there was a price for these lessons. A price he hadn't even negotiated yet. Phil had promised him that the first week of lessons was free, then they would talk about the cost.

“Last lesson today.” He said, echoing Tristam's thoughts, “But you knew that didn’t you?”

“Yes. You promised something amazing but this is all pretty amazing.”

“Amazing to you.” The old man pitched his cigarette into the snow, “Same old shit to me. Come closer now.”

Tristam drew closer until he and Phil were an arm's length apart. The old man fairly radiated power; it was nothing specific, nothing Tristam could explain. Phil had already taught him so much; like how to slip from his body without having to be asleep and how to ride what he had called the 'Astral Currents'.

“Hard to believe this will ever be same old shit.”

“Given the choice between a nice piece of ass and superpowers, you know what I’d take?” Phil sneered.

Thoughts of Ariel and Monique filled his mind suddenly and Phil's knowing grin made Tristam want to ride the astral currents right back home again. “Can we get on with it?”

“I dunno.” The old man laughed a little, “You sure your mind is on the game?”

“I am focused.”

“Ariel? That your little girlfriend? She looks a little old for you.”

“Please. The lesson.”

Smiling Phil reached into his pocket and pulled out another cigarette. With a flick of his wrist he popped the cigarette into his mouth, “Boy, you're all business kid you know that?”

“Only way to understand.”

“You said it.” He pulled a lighter from his heavy winter coat and lit the cigarette; Phil inhaled deeply taking his time before he spoke again. “Reality is like an onion, you got that?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Listen fuckwit I'm trying to teach you. You want to call it quits and go home? You wanna spend the rest of your life being nothing more than a peeping tom?”

“How can you know? I never said anything.”

“I know a lot of things kiddo. It would make you sick if you knew what was in my head.” Phil advanced on his pupil. Tristam involuntarily flinched backwards, passing through a tombstone. “Now like I said, reality is like an onion. It's in layers. The very center of the onion, that's you, that's your mind, your soul. The Realm of Essence.”

“I don't understand. I am the center of the universe?”

“Your perceptions to an extent create the universe you see. For instance if you're afraid of dogs, then every dog you see will seem threatening.”

“But that isn’t reality.”

“The reality you see is the only reality you can ever really know. You think you can ever see the world through my eyes? Through someone else's? Not gonna happen. So the core of reality is you but the core of realty is also me, your Mom and everyone else.”

“I think I understand.”

Phil laughed a little, “Now the next layer, the second layer of our little onion is the Realm of the Dead. The leftover residue from each living spirit lingers there, sometimes for long after they’ve shuffled off the old mortal coil.”


“Later more on the Realm of the Dead later, I promise, but after that is Realm of Dreams. Not just your dreams, everyone's dreams. Dreams are how different souls mingle, it's how ideas are born. It explains why certain images and ideas can carry on from one culture to the next. It reveals itself in the best things we do, and the worst things we do.”

Tristam felt like he had just wandered into a twelfth grade Introduction to Philosophy class “So what you are saying is that the entire human race is collectively responsible for going to the moon and committing the Holocaust?”

“After a fashion, but individuals were needed to make those dreams a reality.” Phil inhaled deeply on his cigarette and blew smoke through Tristam “Besides the Jews were asking for it.”


“The next layer of reality is the world of matter.” He rapped on the side of the unmarked mausoleum for emphasis, “The world of flesh. This is where you live, shit, eat and fuck. What was it Victor used to say? Oh yeah... ‘We are empyreal players upon a stage of substance and reverie.’”

“Who is Victor?”

Phil frowned and shifted from one foot to another and back again, “My teacher. He taught me what I'm teaching you, he just said it better. He used a lot of Latin. After the Realm of Substance is energy. Now I don’t mean energy like the kind you get from a socket in the wall. I mean energy like in magic.”

“Magic?” Tristam's thoughts were tinged with disbelief.

“Magic and don’t mock me unless you want to become permanently disembodied.”

Somehow Tristam didn't think he was kidding “Sorry, it's just that when I think of magic I think of rabbits coming out of hats-Zigfield and Roy-showgirls and wands.”

“Well magic is real, it's everything and nothing like you imagine. It's a force that anyone can tap into if they're lucky or clever enough.”

“So I'm lucky and you're clever?”

“Very good.” Phil laughed.

The sun was lost behind the blunted treeline. Wind plucked at the old man's hair, he drew in his coat around him. Tristam wondered how long he had before his Dad came to pick him up. Tristam had left his physical form waiting back at his empty house, but would he finish here in time to hear his Dad knock on the door?

“So that's four layers.”

“Four layers you need to worry about.”

“Why not explain the rest?”

“Same reason they don't teach Algebra in Kindergarten.”

“Got it.”

“Now for an illustration.” Phil walked up to Tristam and waved a hand across his face, “What I want you to do is to concentrate. Close what you think is your eyes.”

“How do I-”

“You do it by not thinking about it.”

His mind buzzing with confusion, Tristam decided to try one of Dr. Butterfield's relaxation techniques. Slowly his vision began to blur until the old man and the cemetery faded from view.

Phil's voice however was still there, “Empty your mind, that last part shouldn't be too hard.”

“Up yours. No wait! I didn’t mean-”

“Shut up and concentrate. You can't see and you're just kind of floating there right?”

“Right.” He felt pretty darn relaxed, he almost felt like he might drift off to sleep but he couldn’t fall asleep now could he? If he did would he dream he was someone else? He began to feel like he was tipping over, like he was on the verge of tumbling end over end.

“Now if you're doing this right you should start to get this sensation. It's almost like being seasick.”

“Kind of.” Without his body or his sense of vision to anchor him Tristam certainly felt disoriented. He felt as though he was swirling downwards, into the dirt, into the graves.

“Better yet. It almost feels like that feeling you get when you're about to fall asleep and suddenly you wake up and you feel like you're falling out of bed. Is it happening?”


“Good. Now don’t let it stop, don't tense up.”

Tristam just knew he was tumbling end over end into the Earth. What would happen when he crossed through one of the long buried bodies? What would he feel? “Enough. Something is wrong this can't be right.”

“Don’t pussy out on me now. Hang in there.” Phil's voice sounded like it was directly in his ear, “Know what this is? This is your soul when its about to breach the boundary between layers. You remember the whole onion thing right kid?”


“Yeah your soul, and I know what you’re gonna ask. Leave it until after the lesson. Now there is a kind of barrier there. Can you feel it pushing you away?”

“Yes.” There was something nearby, he could feel himself brushing against it. It felt prickly, like the surface of an old brick wall. He rolled across it in lazy circles.

“Good. Now push back.” Phil ordered, “Push back hard.”

Uncertain of what muscles he was really flexing Tristam pushed against the barrier. Somehow pushing against the barrier made the surface more jagged; what had once been merely noticeable became uncomfortable. “Ow. Ow!”

“Yeah it does hurt doesn’t it? Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier but I didn't want to ruin the surprise.”

“Fucker!” Tristam tried to propel himself away but somehow that only pressed him harder against the barrier. Jabbing pains passed though him. In his mind he imagined that he was rolling over a field of shark's teeth and broken glass. “Make it stop! Make it stop!”

“Yeah. The first time is always roughest, and you can't turn back now can you?”

He couldn't turn back. No matter what way he tried to fly he only managed to crush himself harder against the barrier. He tried to open his eyes, to see where he was but his vision remained occluded save for strange kaleidoscope flashes of light and shape.

“I can't-”

“You better or you'll stay there.” Phil laughed darkly, “Your body will go on living and you'll be trapped here forever.”

“Help me!”

“And the pain will keep getting worse. Did I mention that? The more you struggle the more it will hurt and of course the pain will make you struggle more. It’s one of those viscous cycle things.”


“Nothing I can do Tristam. You have to find your own way.”

Agony made the seconds stretch into hours as Tristam railed against the barrier. Could he really spend the rest if his life like this? Tristam imagined his father finding him slumped over on the stoop, his eyes glassy and vacant.

“I can't get away… it won’t let me go.”

If he spent the rest of his life like this, like Adelphos' brother only worse, would anyone care? Would anyone mourn?

Fuck this! The anger goaded him, Fuck them! In his mind's eye the barrier became his tormentors- the Pretty Boys, his sister, Warren, Evan, Monique, the old man, his father, even that damn dog. They jeered his pain, reveling in his misery. He felt as though he was being split apart. The Cold Inside stirred and Tristam was too distracted to keep it in check. He felt it reach out and with a single push bring the barrier down.

Free again his vision snapped back into focus. Tristam winced; focus wasn't the right word, now everything seemed too sharp and too bright, like a television screen with its contrast controls miss-set. He could feel the Cold Inside eagerly beginning to uncoil itself and filling his head with promises.

“There.” Phil loosed a long shuddering breath, “I knew you could do it.”

If the old man sensed anything strange he made no sign, so, so Tristam forced the Cold Inside back into the empty recesses of himself. He felt it snarl and beg. Tristam wondered if he could he shut hat part of himself away forever.

“You ok kid? Hello?”

“Sorry. It’s all so much. Did I do it right?”

“You’re fine. Now don’t get scared by the way things look. These are just your new senses. They take a little getting used to. Try and focus on me.” Phil paced in front of him.

“You're… you're glowing!”

“That's my power, just about everyone has a little radiance to them, unless of course they're dead inside or married. Like I said before, you flicker like a firefly. You have more power than I do, but you can’t control it.”

“What does it look like?”

“It looks like power.”

“Can you see anything odd? Anything else?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know.” Tristam wondered if maybe he really was nuts after all. “I’ve just always felt different inside.”

“That’s because you’re a teenager.” Phil shook his head, “Now turn around.”

“There's more?” Tristam said a tad wearily. After this last scare he felt like he had had enough.

“We're not even started yet, turn around.”

They hung in the air above the cemetery, floating in lazy circles. They looked like something out of an undersea documentary. “Are these aliens?”

“That's soul residue, ghosts you'd call them. Not exactly Casper is it?”

Tristam stared at the bloated shapes, “Ghosts? Can they see me? Can I talk to them?”

“Listen to me kid. They're residue. They're all that's left of us when we're dead – mindless, pointless, invisible, intangible and impotent. Not much to look forward to, but better than most people deserve.”

Tristam moved closer to one of the membranous shapes, “So is this all there is? What about God?”

“What about God?”

“Is he real?”

Phil sneered “You want the truth or fairy tales?”

“The truth.”

“I've seen a lot of weird things in my day Tristam. I've seen stuff that would freeze your bowels solid.”

On closer examination the, the 'ghost' could been seen to glimmer ever so slightly, “Sounds pleasant.”

“I've never once seen a single shred of proof that there is a God. Believe me kid, I gave the bastard more than enough chances to show up. We live, we die and in the end we don’t mean a damn thing. All we leave behind is an empty shell and sometimes something like that. Victor always thought that the size of the ghost was based upon the number of regrets the dying person had, but he never proved that, not really.”

“So there's magic and ghosts but no God?”

“That's just my view on things, you can take it or leave it.”

“It kind of goes along with what I've always---” Long, hair-like feelers hung from its bloated body. They grasped lazily for Tristam, “GAAAA! It's after me!”

Phil laughed, “It's just reacting on instinct. It feels the heat of your life. They're cold, they're cold all the time.”

“Cold all the time?” Tristam shuddered with revulsion, “Is that normal?”

“They’re dead what do you expect?” After taking one final savoring puff from his cigarette he pitched it through the ghost. It quivered and spun blindly in place, “Now, touch it.”


“Touch it. Stick what you think is your hand right through it.”

“Are you fucking crazy?”

“I didn’t expect a confessed dog killer to be so squeamish.” The old man grumbled. He plucked off one of his gloves. The light that radiated from Phil began to flicker and shift, oozing along his outline and gathering around the fingertips of his bare hand. He glanced back at Tristam and then plunged his hand into the quivering specter “It's perfectly safe. See?”

Mewling sounds filled the air; nausea washed over Tristam “What? What are you doing?”

“Eating.” The ghost swelled and thrashed but then slowly began to go limp, its form dwindling until it was lost in the glow emanated from the old man. “Like I said every soul has magic but not every soul has enough magic to make a damn bit of difference. This is one of the ways you can get a little bit extra.”

Scenes from Richard's Moorcock novels were flashing through Tristam's head, “But that was somebody's soul.”

“Believe me they're not gonna miss it. Besides if there really was a God to care, wouldn't he have stopped me? Send an angel down to kick my ass or something?”

“Is this the only way to get power?”

Phil smiled, “Well there’s always the old reliable human sacrifice.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. The more potential the soul of the person being sacrificed, the more bang you get for your buck.” Phil explained, “Now if you’re really not squeamish you can pledge yourself to serve an outer power.”

“An outer power?”

“There’s all kinds of weird shit out there lurking between the layers, like the Black Pantheon or the Monarchs. If you serve them they do favors for you but things can get pretty fucked up pretty fast.”

“Did you ever serve one of those outer powers?”

“Fuck that.” Phil kicked at the snow, “I serve myself. Now, back to your lesson. There' a good-looking ghost over there by that statue of the Virgin Mary. Give it a try. Once you've got your hand in there draw inwards, imagine yourself inhaling or sucking on a straw. Remember that connection you make can be a two way street if the ghost is a feisty one.”

It was dark now, the ghost bobbed and flickered in the distance, “How do you tell if they're feisty?”

“That my boy is one of the things you learn with experience.”

“Is that one feisty?”

“What you don’t trust me?”


Phil cackled, “Good you're learning. You can tell by the glow, see how pale that one is? It’s barely there, it’s rotting away. It's probably some damn fool doesn't know they’re dead. Probably someone died in their sleep and thinks they're still dreaming. Now get to it.”

The thought that maybe it was a time to go home occurred to him, “I don’t know…”

“You've got to if you want more lessons. You can't learn to drive until you know how to turn the car on.”

“I still don't know what you want from me.”

“No you don't now go do what I told you. Go on…” Phil waved his hand, his aura flared.

Tristam felt himself surge forward, “Hey!”

The ghost sensed his approach and began to reach for him with swaying feelers. It made cooing noises and shivered in anticipation. For a moment the image of a bloodied dog flashed into his mind but Tristam let it give way to the image of Evan grinning, his arm pulled back, his hand curled into a fist.

Tristam tore through the body of the ghost with sickening ease. It screamed, its voice echoing through him. Tendrils lashed weakly at Tristam. He drew in, just like he'd been told.

It comes so easily to me… why does it come so easily?”

Just as suddenly the specter was gone, its dwindling light added to his own. Tristam felt strangely glutted and manic at the same time. He wanted to fly through every house in the neighborhood and learn their secrets. He wanted to reach up and trace patterns in the moon with his finger. He wanted to find his way to Monique and make her sorry, make her love him again.

And for the first time Tristam began to realize that he might be able to do these things, all he needed was to be patient with the old man. To ply him with flattery and endure his insults, that was at least one thing he'd learned to do at Blessed Heart.

“I'm in.”

“What?” Phil asked with mock curiosity.

“Whatever you want I'll do it. Whatever you need I'll get it.” Tristam rocketed towards the old man “Just show me more.”

“So we have a deal then?” Phil beamed and made a show of putting his glove back on.

“Yes please, just tell me what to do next.”

“Go home. We've covered enough for one day. Now go back to your body. Between lessons there is to be no extracurricular flying about and no eating from the ghostly buffet. Trust me I'll be able to tell if you do either, if you do that you're fucked.”

“But you can’t… not after you've shown me this!” Tristam zipped around him frantically.

“I can and I will.” Phil turned to go, “The first rule, the only rule, is that my word is law. You don't question you just do.”

“Phil, please just show me a few more things.”

“Go home, have some fuckin' turkey or something.”

“Please…” He wondered if he could get his way simply by hounding the old man enough. A bribe for a little piece and quiet?

Suddenly Phil's body flared, when he spoke his voice reverberated painfully through Tristam's head, “I said go home or I will slam you back into your body and it will hurt, a lot.”

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