Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Black Sword of In'teroth

Author's Note: A story I've been conceptualizing since its predecessor, Eccentric Physics and Fruit, came out (http://tentaclesandhorror.blogspot.ca/2014/06/it-was-late-on-humid-dreary-afternoon.html). It took forever to put into words, though, so you'll see a little of how my writing style has changed when you read this. Hard to believe I wrote the beginning in Grade 9... If you have any questions or comments, feel free (on ANY of the stories, its all good) to make them, and enjoy!

On August 7th Dr. Theodore Martense disappeared mysteriously from his home, while with his friend Dr. Frederick Thomisson, who was left behind. He was, however, found to be innocent of any involvement. Questioning, forensics, and the best police work left little answers as to where he'd gone, and Dr. Thomisson was clearly unable to speak about the incident. It was eventually assumed that poor Dr. Martense had been kidnapped, and the police searched the entire countryside near his house, to no avail. The case was dropped, and it was assumed Dr. Martense was dead. He left behind an odd, but soon abandoned house, lots of exceptional paperwork, and a grieving, pregnant widow. So sad was she, that it therefore came as little shock to most when she passed away during childbirth. The baby, named Louis, grew up under the custodianship of Dr. Thomisson, and seemed little concerned with the odd events of his birth. He went to college, took up a job in welding, married (A woman by the name of Doreen) and moved into his poor father's house. He eventually had one son, by the name of Theodore (Jr.), and a daughter, Amabelle. And so it went for a few years, until his ailing guardian, Dr. Thomisson, moved in. Dr. Thomisson, now quite elderly, was a fond teller of stories, particularly those of the exploits of the children's grandfather. And the children were happy to listen, hoping to find out more about him. Eventually, of course, they grew up, as children are wont to do, and went to university. Amabelle studied physics, like her grandfather and, when she was 28, was essential in man's first trip to the planet of Pluto, and preventing the first Pluto-Terran war (but that's another story). Theodore, however, merely took a bachelors in art & literature, then went into journalism. He was moderately successful in his field for several years, but, during a lull in the news, was forced to look at older stories. And so it was that Theodore, 27, discovered the 54 year-old, dusty, story of the disappearance of his grandfather. Intrigued, Theodore recalled that it would occasionally come up when he was small;
Grand-Dr. Thomisson would be sitting by the yawning, daemon-like fireplace, smoking his pipe. "And that was how your grandfather saved me from the grizzly bear," he would finish, eyes misty with remembrance. "In fact, it was only about a month or two before he..." Then Grandpa would stop. Theodore would look up from his crayon drawing of the study, and ask "Before he what, Grand-Doc?" Grand-Doc looked up. "Nothing. Say, is that the pentagram on his floor?" And Theodore, happy to be receiving the attention, would be diverted from the topic to discuss his excellent (five-year-old) drawing of the study...
That night, Theodore showed up at his parent's place. "How's Grand-Doc doing?" He asked his parents when they'd all exchanged the customary greetings. Not good, was the response. Theodore went upstairs to the study slowly. The odd, winding banister was, as usual, spotless. The study was even more so. His Grand-Doc liked it that way. The rest of the house had slowly changed from the Victorian thing it was to a more modern, chrome look. Even the door knocker had gone. When he got to the study (His Gran-Doc's favourite place) he found his Grand-Doc in the chair, watching that peculiar pentagram on the floor. He never would say why. "Hey Grand-Doc." He said.
His Grand-Doc looked up, slowly, the arthritis which had so plagued his later years halting his every step. His Grand-Doc had contracted it when he was 58, and it had gotten progressively worse over 23 years. "Theo, my boy, come here." He motioned to a spot on the floor, near a black stain that had never washed away.
"You called me recently." He stated bluntly.
"Yes."
"You asked about your Grandfather and namesake, Dr. Theodore Martense." Still blunt.
"Yes." Theodore considered what he should say next. He decided to be honest, as that was always the best policy when dealing with his Grand-Doc. "There's been a break in the news recently, and I did some research into him. You never told me he disappeared."
His Grand-Doc sighed, perhaps in annoyance, perhaps in resignation, perhaps wistfully. He slowly drummed his fingers on the study's sole chair, staring at that stain.
"54 years ago, your grandfather disappeared from that very spot." He commented suddenly, as if the weight of the words on his shoulders was too much for him.
Theodore looked at the stain questioningly. "You mean he vanished from his own study, without leaving the house? And only left that small stain to remember him by?"
Frederick looked at him intently, for an eternal moment, as if judging him. Finally he continued.
"Yes. From that very spot. He was kidnapped, you see, for he got too close."
"Too close to what?"
"The truth. That this universe, and these laws it governs us by, are all but a figment of our collective imagination, imposed on us by beings beyond our comprehension, and that there are a multiplicity of earths, parallel dimensions, and states of existence kept just out of our reach."
And then, with a great exhalation, Dr. Thomisson, told the whole tale. How his grandfather had reached too far, too swiftly, and with not enough support, and been cruelly taken from this world years before his time to some infernal hell dimension for judgement. Theodore didn't believe a word of it.
He stood up slowly. "It appears I arrived too late. Your mind is too far gone. Thank you, Grand-Doc, but I must go." And with that he left. Frederick sat there, for a time, the disappointment and sadness evident on his face. Finally he stood up, groaning. "Well, his father didn't believe me either," he commented dryly, and went to make some tea.
On his way out of the house, Theodore was rushed, and didn't look where he was going. "Oof!" said the small, nervous looking man he collided with. Theodore stepped back. "I'm sorry. I was rushed and didn't look where I was going, as stated above by the author." he apologized.
The man smiled anxiously, his whiskery beard twitching, then tipped his bowler hat in acquiescence before hoisting his strange looking bundle and rushing off. Theodore stood there in bemusement for a few moments, till someone else collided with him. The man glared at him, trench coat swirling about his feet. He reached for something, then decided it wasn't worth it, and kept on running. The sight of his piercing green eyes startled him, even as Theo wondered over the chase and its portents. He decided not to let the events of the day bother him unduly. The police had been right in their report, and those two men had been there simply by coincidence. He decided to go and adjourn to his house for some drinks. He hadn't taken three steps before he tripped over something. It appeared that the bundle the first man had dropped had contained more than strange cloths. It had also contained a sword pommel. The pommel was about half a foot long, made of black oak, with a strange monster inlaid into the pommel. The thing appeared to be a linear repeating structure, without end or beginning, looping in an impossibly bendy square back in upon itself. Theo found it vaguely disturbing, like some vile creature had risen from the abyss (which was silly; the shape was neither grotesque nor villainous in appearance. how could something so normal be scary?), but realized that the man might want his pommel back eventually. So he took it to his house with him.
He only lived across the street, after all.
He sat down in his living room with a scotch and his notebook, and debated what to write. He needed a story for the newspaper, one that was newsworthy. Maybe he could make up something saucy about some celebrity. That always sold. Then he remembered he was the protagonist in a story and protagonists were always relatable, kind individuals. Darnnit.
He looked outside, realized it was raining for the fourth day in a row (in February), and decided to write something about the wacky weather complexes they were having. He did some quick research, then remembered that astrology was basically a more exact science than meteorology and pulled out a pair of dice instead. He rolled them a few times, compared the results with his book on astragalomancy (as written by the learned occultist Artimaeus Jy), then wrote what he got down. He was just beginning to compose it into a full work (titled The Faults in our Weather) when he heard knocking on his door.
Slightly startled at the concept of people knocking on his door, and certainly at so late an hour, he went to answer it. On the other side was the nervous looking man from earlier, shuffling about. "Errm... hello?" He started off nervously.
"Hello."
"Earlier today we... may have bumped into each other, and I dropped something of mine. It was a small... sword pommel. I was wondering if you'd perchance had... maybe... taken it?"
Theo grinned. "Indeed I did. I was wondering how I'd get it back to you. How'd you find me?"
He turned and went to retrieve the sword from where he'd left it as the man answered.
"I observed your resemblance to one Theodore Martense, Dr, as I was bumping into you outside his house. He was a very famous member of our... field... and I thought to look up Martense in the phone book."
Theodore nodded, passing the sword back to him. "So you we're passing by to see the famous house, then?"
The man considered his answer for a few moments. "Sure. Let's go with that." He turned to go, but Theo stopped him. "What did you say your name was?"
The man turned back to look at him, the horror fading from his eyes. "Ernest. Ernest Kobaldus." He handed Theodore a piece of paper. "My card."

Ernest Kobaldus
Inventor
332 Cherry Roads
112-358-1321

  And with that, he was gone, vanishing into the night with his sword pommel. Theodore went back to his chair to finish his work, happy to have done a good deed. But all of a sudden, there was another knock on his door! He rose to answer it. "I hope Ernest doesn't expect me to have the blade to his sword too," he muttered under his breath. But he opened it to the angry man from the road."Well howdy-doo!" Theodore commented, bemused. "This is twice today I've run into you and that other man in order. What can I help you with?"
The man immediately began panicking. "He was here? Kobaldus? Please tell me you didn't give him the second half of his Black Sword?!"
Theo laughed jauntily. "You mean that silly pommel? Yeah, I gave that to him. And why wouldn't I? It was his, it would be cruel not to, and so I did a good deed. Why do you care?"
The man put his hands to his face and groaned. "You gave him the second half of his sword! Now he has both halves to the Black Sword of In'teroth! Do you know how disastrous this is?!"
Theodore shrugged. He was beginning to wonder if he'd become caught in some weird sort of cosplay. "Not really. Whatsit do?"
"It breaks the laws of physics, that's what it does! Distorts reality!" The man looked about in desperation. "What is it about this stupid dimension that encourages lawbreakers and ruffians? Kobaldus, the boy with the pink hair, both those damn Martense physicists!"
Theodore's interest was peaked, now. "Martense? You mean like Theodore Martense?"
The man scoffed. "Yeah, him. He was a danger. Nearly destabilized the boundaries across the spacetime continuum, before I brought him in."
Theodore stumbled back, he was so surprised. "You? It was you who kidnapped him? But that was 54 years ago! Why haven't you aged? And where is he?"
The man waved a hand in dismissal. "Long gone. Hung from the end of a rope for his crimes. As for me, don't worry. I'm well taken care of. This man, Ernest Kobaldus, he didn't happen to give you a location, did he?"
"Sure he did. But who are you, and why should I give you his location?"
The man reached into a pocket of his trench coat, pulled out a badge. "Evvel D'Mon. I work with the physics police, the Quae Innominandum, and you should give me his location because he is a danger to all mankind with his dark blade."
Theodore was vaguely ─▒ncomfortable. On one hand, this man had kidnapped his grandfather, and killed him. On the other, his grandfather had been breaking the highest order of laws in the universe, and this man was a cop. He was only doing his job, after all. Not his fault. Theodore decided to trust him. "Follow me," he said. He knew exactly where 332 Cherry Roads was. The library was a block away.

Officer D'Mon followed him uncomplainingly to the door of the house, which was lit from inside by what could only be described as an anti-glow. It literally generated its light, by absorbing it. Once they were at the door, the officer waved him behind him. "I've got it from here."
He kicked the door down, then rushed in, drawing a six-holster. Ernest was inside, cleaning a short sword of black steel, inlaid with the same impossibly bendy straight lines present on the hilt, leading up to a deadly looking point. The man barely seemed surprised by their entrance, but rather removed his wide glasses and looked at them in minor annoyance. "You could have knocked."
Evvel snorted. "You'd be long gone, scum."
The man looked as if he was about to object, then tilted his head in consideration before admitting that the officer was probably right. He stood up then, from where he was leaning over the blade, to his full height of 5'2''. "I object to your use of the word scum." He commented nervously. "I would contend it is you who are scum, limiting us to our component parts, not letting us take flight, and soar upon the wings of awe and magic."
D'Mon cocked his gun arrogantly. "Wings of awe and magic, huh? What a fancy way of saying 'chaos', 'anarchy', and 'an eternal torment of unending death'." And with that, he swung his gun up and fired.
Kobaldus' sword was already moving, however. It made a keening noise as it swung through the air, like some hungry daemon of the abyss. It left a tear through the fabric of reality, creating an iniquitous hole which absorbed the bullet as it attempted to pass through. Evvel didn't seem concerned, but placed his gun back into his trench-coat, withdrawing a billy club in its place. The gun had seemed a better idea to Theodore.
Ernest tittered nervously. "You can't hope to defeat me, you fool. My sword of ultimate evil has been forged from the souls of YouTube comments!"
The light in D'Mon's eyes faded a little, as he realized just what sort of horrors and villainy had gone into the making of the sword. But he steeled himself, and charged. The two met in a clash of powers, their respective weapons darting back and forth across the ever-generating abysses created by Kobaldus' weapon. D'Mon was clearly the better swordsman, but Ernest, for all his small size and nervous demeanor, was by far the more determined and had more stamina. Several times he near launched D'Mon into the holes created by his sword, the officer barely maintaining his hold on this reality. For D'Mon's part, he landed several solid blows on Ernest's body. Kobaldus didn't seem to note them, as if the energy absorbed by his blade was transferred to him, like a poisonous personality spreading its influence.
Theodore realized he should step in, but he honestly had no clue who he was rooting for, and so he stood in absorbed contemplation of the spectacle unfolding about him. The holes now occupied most of the room, and the combatants were in more and more perilous positions every moment. All of a sudden there was a terrific snick-like noise, and the two halves of the billy club fell to the floor. D'Mon was left holding his empty fists before him.
All of a sudden there was noise, and light, from outside, and Theodore could observe the shapes of more trench-coated individuals approaching the house. Evidently Kobaldus could, too, because he stopped his onslaught. "Deus ex machina." He cursed.
"It appears you've been saved... for now," he observed to D'Mon. To Theodore, he simply commented; "Mark that 'twas not I who instigated this, nor I who sought violence." Then he took his sword, and stepped through a hole. he vanished into the abyss quietly, as he lived.
"Return thee to the abyss, demon." D'Mon observed quietly. He directed the arriving agents to clean up the holes (how, Theodore knew not), then turned to Theo. "Now, for you..."  

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Transmutation, pt. 1

Howdy! Sorry for the giant pause, I've been really busy elsewhere. The following post is a couple of things. First, you can consider it my apology for the lack of work (it will be several parts). Second, you can view this as my Valentine's day story; I was debating doing something mocking the holiday, or something dark around the holiday (like my previous Valentine's day story). But then I realized, that if I wanted to truly ignore Valentine's day without actually insulting it, I should write about something that has nothing to do with the holiday. So, this is an (extraordinarily dark and bloody) alternative take of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. Enjoy.

One morning, Sam Gregorovich woke up and discovered he’d turned into a hideous, verminous human. He shivered, recalling his shadowy dreams of the night before. He’d been wandering the forests as his normal, cockroachy self, when all of a sudden he’d reached a fork in the road. To one side lay a sheer drop, the forest giving way beneath the might of the cliff. To the other, a dark, twisted path of webs and blackened trees. Not particularly caring for acts of suicide, he chose the darker path.
As he’d wandered the pathways and narrow rock edges of that strange path, he’d noticed something odd occurring. Whereas before, the trees had towered over him, as he’d strode amongst the fleshy plants and thorny insects (not noticing them as being odd; ‘twas one of those strange dream things). But as he began to walk, he began to grow taller. After a while, when he realized he was trodding upon the flowers he so loved, he looked down. Only to realize, in horror, that not only was he taller, he was changing…
His beautiful chitin was melting away, to be replaced by the rubbery skin of that twisted race, his legs shedding and vanishing, those that remained being shrunk to near uselessness. His antennae vanished, and his eyesight dimmed as the number of eyes he possessed left. Realizing with a jolt of terror that it must be this strange forest, and preferring the death offered by the cliff to the monster he’d become, he began to run the other way. As he ran, however, the forest ahead of him began to dim, the path he’d chosen disappearing. It was impossible to take that road.
“NOOOOO!” He screamed, collapsing to the forest floor, vaguely aware of the crunching of life beneath his feet. Then he woke up in a cold sweat, panting. He didn’t notice anything wrong then, however, so he went back to sleep. Clearly, however, something had gone on that night, that night of those strange dreams.
He tried to get up, but collapsed back down, his slippery limbs getting away from him. He scrambled for a little bit, trying to get up, then realizing he’d done it wrong and his head was pointing up, or that legs weren’t meant to go where he was putting them. Finally he stopped, when it occurred to him that in order to move like a human, one must think like a human.
He tried to remember the humans he’d seen. They had a strange belief, these humans, that because they could “think”, that that made them better, somehow. They were masters at thinking, those humans, without truly thinking at all, somehow deluding themselves that shallow thoughts, were better than none at all. That maybe a limited perception made up for lack of forethought?
Sam stood up. It happened quite suddenly, and easily. He wasn’t sure where the shorter limbs went, though. They didn’t seem to have any real purpose, other than to wave about uselessly. Maybe they enabled humans to perform wasteful actions, if the limbs were wasteful? Sam was going to see if they had some point to them, when all of a sudden he heard tiny screaming. He glanced down, his eyes seeming to move for miles before they found his target, a fellow roach. He thought the roach seemed familiar, but his memory was a long way off (so much space, here in the human mind! How come nothing productive went on here?).
“Polluter! Monster! Daemon!” the roach kept screaming, running around in circles. Sam began panicking; what if the roach alerted the other? He tried to calm him down. “Shh… sh… it’s okay…” he began, then stopped. His hands slammed over his mouth in alarm. Where was the clicking? Even his voice was mutated, distorted beyond belief into the slipperiness that seemed everywhere with his new body…
He stumbled in shock, and heard a crunch. He closed his eyes, saddened. He hoped his vague sense of recollection had been off, regarding the roach below. He hurriedly ran away, hearing screams as he went. The screams of the dying, the damned, the doomed, the dead… Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch. They were inescapable. Then, in the distance, he observed the grey strip of unnaturalness humans called “pavement.” He hurried towards it, his feet leaving a swath of devastation in his wake. So much power. Perhaps this was why humans acted the way they did.
It was easy to forget the lives of those beneath you...