Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapter 2

Good morning everyone!! Hope you all are enjoying the story so far! Chapter 2 was a ball to write! Researching the steampunk sub-culture for this part of the story was a blast! The costumes and the characters people come up with, along with the party atmosphere that goes with it are incredibly intricate and I'm amazed at the level of ingenuity that goes into every aspect of it. The idea for Indoor Fog Croquet really stuck in my brain. I also thought it would be a great way to re-introduce our mystery lady. The idea of the mysterious creature emerging from the mist sends a chill down my spine! I was going to go a bit longer with this chapter but once I wrote that last sentence I knew I had to stop there. Stay tuned for Chapter 3 to find out why Aloysius cant seem to get away from his new friend...

             Exhausted after a too-long day of training Mary, Aloysius wanted nothing more than to kick back and have a good time with his friends. He loaded up his bright red Vespa with his party gear and zoomed off toward Xander’s house. Of course, since nothing was easy that day, he hit snarls of traffic on every route he tried. Normally, his little scooter enabled him to maneuver through the other cars on the road with ease, but it seemed at this particular hour everyone was headed in the same direction he was with no means of escaping it!  Aloysius only lived two towns over from Xander’s new condo in Cambridge, but at this rate he thought he wouldn’t make it there before midnight.
            By the time he arrived, he could tell the party was already in full swing. He pulled up in the driveway and hurriedly began gathering up his gear. He flipped up the seat of the scooter to reveal a compartment chock full of gears and goggles. He didn’t bother fixing the mess that was his hair after taking off his helmet. In fact he tousled it even more before strapping his clunky goggles to his head. He took off his riding jacket and pulled a white lab coat on over his work clothes and strapped two leather wristlets equipped with bronze “weaponry” on each arm. He tied on his belt decorated with plastic beakers and lenses of various shapes and sizes. Lastly, he pulled out a simple jar of soot. He poured the soot in his hand and smeared it all over the front of his jacket and even put a swipe or two on his cheeks. He put his riding accessories and helmet away and secured his scooter before heading up the few stone steps to Xander’s front door.
            After he rang the door bell, he stood on the tiny porch and stared at the driveway for a few minutes. He was in such a rush that he hardly noticed the line of scooters he inadvertently parked next to. Almost every party attendee drove the same scooter as he did, just in a different color. He wondered why he had never noticed it before. The quick opening of the door snapped him out of his trance and he was greeted by a gentleman smoking a pipe and wearing a top hat, tuxedo, and monocle. “Oh! Aloysius, old boy! Come in, come in!” Xander said as he cleared the doorway for his guest.
            “Xander, no one I know get’s into character better than you do.” He walked in and shook the white-gloved hand of his host.
            “My Good Sir, since you’ve just arrived, allow me to inform you what has transpired, unbeknownst to you a murder most foul!” Xander nearly knocked his top hat off with excitement.
            “Ah, so we’re going with a murder mystery theme tonight? Are you sure it wasn’t you with this…laser thing you have here?” He said examining the ornate gauntlet on Xander’s arm.
            “This is no laser! This is merely a sophisticated watch, sir!”
            “Can you just tell me what’s going on out of character so I can play too?”
            “No time! We must figure out who did the nefarious deed before he or she strikes again! To the parlor!” Just like that, Aloysius was left standing alone in the alcove of the condo. As he walked further inside, he was greeted by his fellow party guests who were playing parlor games. The lights in the condo were turned down low and little tea light candle’s were lit everywhere creating a romantic and almost old-world atmosphere. He said his hello’s and was almost immediately bowled over by a small pixie-haired woman wearing a tiny top hat. “Yay!! You finally made it!” she said sweetly.
            “Hello Hannah!” he said hugging her back “You look fabulous. And then I got soot all over you. Sorry about that.” He brushed some of the soot off her bare shoulder. Hannah, who was Xander’s wife, wore a brown leather corset over a heavy corduroy skirt and petticoat with big clunky brown leather boots to match. “The place looks great, by the way.”
            “Thanks! You’ve seen Xan already, obviously.” They moved from the parlor into the dining room where a selection of various tiny sandwiches, pastries and different teas and drinks lined the main table. Al was famished and grabbed a few treats.
            “Oh, I have. He seems to have been hitting the libations fairly early. Mind telling me what’s going on so I can play in the game?”
            “There’s not much to tell really. You are the Professor Lawrence Hobart Clibborn. “
            “Y’know my character doesn’t have to have three names just because I do.”
            “I know, but Xander does it on purpose to watch you squirm.”
            “Damn him to hell, then. So who’s our murder victim?”
            “Edith Darney. She was found in the alley behind your laboratory.”
            “God, I hate when that happens.”
            “I know, isn’t that horrible? How do these things keep happening to you? Anyway, you’ve been cleared as a suspect.”
            “How, I haven’t been here to deliver my alibi?”
            “You were seen leaving your lab long before the body was discovered. We think she was planted there by a doctor trying to steal your secrets.”
            “Oh, well that makes total sense.”
            “Doesn’t it? I thought so. OK, now that you’re caught up, grab something to eat and come down to the basement. We have a new game to play…and a new girl for you to meet.” Hannah said with a wink and quickly turned and headed off towards the basement.
            “I will be down there once I re-fuel!” Al picked at a few more sandwiches and pastries and grabbed a drink before he headed downstairs. When he opened the basement door, he noticed a bit of fog hanging out at the bottom of the staircase. He made his way down slowly and his jaw dropped. Not only was the basement filled with artificial fog but it was set up like a maze separated by pieces of cardboard spray-painted grey. He joined his friends on the stoop and waited for Hannah to explain the rules of the new game. “OK! Professor Lawrence has arrived, we can start!  Now, this game is something I came across on the internet trying to come up with fun new party ideas.  I couldn’t find any set rules of course, but I figure it shouldn’t be any harder than the original game.”
            “What are we playing? ‘Escape the Minotaur’?” A bespectacled fellow partygoer asked. The group let out a collective chuckle.
            “Haha. No Caleb, I’m afraid not.  What we are playing, though, is called Indoor Fog Croquet.” Hannah said swinging her mahogany croquet mallet in the air and resting it on her shoulder. “As you can see we’ve set up our own little obstacle course here plus you have to play through the fog. Now everyone grab a mallet, and we’ll get started.” Aloysius smiled and picked up his own mallet from the stand. He was completely shocked by Hannah and Xander’s creativity when it came to throwing parties like these. “Hey Hannah, are we playing as teams or individually?” he asked.
            “We will be playing in teams, my good sir. Actually your teammate is floating around here somewhere. I think she was checking out the course.”
            “Oh, so your mystery lady is my teammate? You know I need to approve these things in advance.”
            “I don’t think you’ll object at all, dear. Here she is now, actually!” Hannah and Aloysius turned and he couldn’t believe his eyes. Coming around the corner and veiled in fog was none other than his table thief from earlier that day. 

Even though the story is still lacking in it's Lovecrafty-ness, don't worry it's getting there! Chapter 3 has a lot of strange surprises in store. I can only hope the man would approve!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chapter 1

Hello all!!

I'm very proud to finally share chapter 1 of 'The Lovecraft Paradox". Hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! 


            “Bagawk!” the little bird on Aloysius’s screen squawked as he launched it at the pig in the tower. The bird failed to knock over the tower at all, and Aloysius angrily hit the “replay” button again.  He didn’t know why he played Angry Birds so much. It was a stupid game with a stupid storyline and he didn’t understand why people were so obsessed with it. Yet here he was, once again, trying tirelessly to knock down the tower and pop the pig.
It was an abysmally slow day at C.D. Ward, Incorporated. But then again, every day was abysmally slow for Aloysius Baxter Cunningham. Day after day, hour after hour, he would sit in his little “cubical”, as they called it, and tirelessly enter names and numbers into his computer. Aloysius grew more and more bored with his job. Today, in particular, seemed worse than usual. Even though the monotony of his day ate away at his soul, he still did his job. He worked quickly and effortlessly just so he could get all his work out of the way and then slack off. He was so good at his job in fact that his boss made him a trainer and today he was expecting a new hire any time now.
He gave the “Birds” a rest for a while and leaned back in his uncomfortable desk chair. He ran his hands threw his short dark brown hair, twirled his handlebar mustache and snapped his suspenders against his powder grey dress shirt. The dress code in the office was business casual and most just wore khakis and polo shirts, but Aloysius always tried to put effort into his appearance. It was one of the only things he could control about his day. It was plain to see from his wardrobe choices that he was very involved in the Boston steampunk scene. He always wore deep maroons, chocolate browns and dark blues accompanied by brass and copper accoutrements. He despised the “C.D. Ward, Inc” lanyard he had to wear that held his ID badge.  It was neon green and clashed with every article of clothing in his closet. He looked at his beautifully detailed wristwatch. It was just about 10 o’clock. His trainee would be arriving soon. Before he could put his arm down, his boss was standing in front of him with a jolly looking older woman by his side. ‘Yikes’ , he though to himself.
“Ahhh, Good Morning Cunningham! Looking sharp as always, I see! Now you see, Mary, Cunningham is always in good spirits when it comes  to work! He puts effort into how he looks and works hard. He’s a fine example of a C.D. Ward employee!” Mr. Warren was convinced that Aloysius adored his job. He was ok with that because that meant he left him alone most of the time.
“Oh Mr. Warren, you’re far too kind.” He said standing and offering to shake his boss’s pudgy hand. Mr. Warren was in his 50’s, balding with a horrible comb over and insisted on wearing sweater-vests over short-sleeved button-down shirts every single day.  Aloysius smiled thinking about how many hyphens were involved trying to describe Warren’s wardrobe. Mary was no prize either.
“Cunningham, this is Mary. Our newest addition to the C.D. Ward family!”  Mr. Warren said enthusiastically. Mary was short, chubby, and had chin length blonde hair with gray streaks. She wore a red skirt with a hem that hit just at her knee and a waistline that began underneath her boobs. She paired it with a red and white striped candy-cane looking shirt and a leaf brooch straight out of “Lord Of The Rings”. Aloysius pursed his lips and tried not to snicker. He offered her his hand. “Nice to meet you, Mary. Your brooch is lovely. ‘The leaves of Lorien do not idly fall’ as they say.” Mary smiled slightly and tilted her head confused. She had no idea what he was talking about.
“Oh, thank you, but this is from ‘Lord Of  The Rings’.” She said.
“Oh…riiiiiight. That’s what that is. Silly me.” Aloysius used every bit of strength he could muster to not laugh right in her face. ‘Oh Lordie, she has no idea what I’m talking about. Great.’ he thought to himself.
“Now, Cunningham, I expect you to show Mary the ropes. Teach her everything you know about the business.”
“You can count on me, Mr. Warren.” He said with a firm nod.
“I’ll leave you two to it then! Good Luck, Mary!” Mr. Warren let out a quick laugh and waddled away. Now it was just Aloysius and Mary. Mary and Aloysius. Aloysius and his trainee. Anyway he looked at it, he already wasn’t a fan of being alone with Mary. He could tell this would be an unpleasant experience and an extremely long day.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *

They were only about an hour or two into the training process before it happened. It was so close to lunchtime and Aloysius thought he was safe. Every time he trained someone new, they always noticed his ID badge.  It got so bad that he had his security department make him a brand new badge that simply read A.B. CUNNINGHAM to avoid the inevitable questions of “WOW that’s so obscure, is it a family name?” or “How did you make it through grade school?”. Just like the others, Mary brought it up just to make small talk. “Oh! I see Cunningham is your last name! I’m sorry, I’ve been calling you that all morning!”
“That’s alright. I actually prefer it. I go by Cunningham around here, or by Al everywhere else.” He tried to be friendly and hoped that would end the conversation, to no avail. Growing up with a name like Aloysius Baxter Cunningham wasn’t easy at all. In grade school, the other children would taunt him with the rhyme:

“Aloysius' mother does the dishes,
Because her son stinks like fishes!
Get something strong to spray,
He smells just like Innsmouth Bay!”

By the time he got to high school, he was smart enough to just tell everyone his name was Al, and by adulthood he realized that people who weren’t already friends should just call him “Cunningham”.
“Oh haha!” Mary let out a guffaw! Aloysius knew what was coming next. “It’s like that Paul Simon song! So you’re saying I can call you Al? Well then you can call me Benny! Haha!” He was not, however, expecting that.
“Ahhh, that’s right. Paul Simon is pretty awesome.” He said trying to hide his sarcasm. Aloysius was really trying hard with this lady, but their personalities just kept clashing. He looked at the clock again. One more minute until the lunch bell. Then he’d be free from Mary’s horrible jokes and eerily pleasant demeanor for at least an hour. But it wasn’t before she threw one last zinger at him.
“OOOH and you’re initials!! How charming!  ABC!  Your parents must have done that on purpose!” It took all of Aloysius’s will power to keep his jaw from dropping. It wasn’t the worst he heard about his name, but it certainly did catch him off guard!  “So, would you say this job is… easy as ABC?” she joked again. She laughed and laughed and Aloysius let out a small chuckle followed by a sigh. Finally the lunch bell rang.
“Alright Mary, you’re free for lunch!” he said with a clap of his hands. Mary composed herself and wiped a tear from her eye from laughing so hard. Aloysius threw on his scally cap and gathered up his messenger bag while he waited for Mary to gather her things as well. He never ate in the lunch room with his coworkers, but he always liked to escort his new trainees there and introduce them to like-minded individuals. He was usually a pretty good judge of character and could pick where certain people would fit in. As for himself, he didn’t fit in with any of them. That’s why he preferred to go to the little café up the street from the office for his lunch hour.
C.D. Ward had a bigger office in Downtown Boston, but they also had a little satellite office in the North End up the street from Old North Church and Copp’s Hill Cemetery. On sunny spring and summer days, Aloysius would take his laptop with his lunch up to the cemetery, or over to the courtyard in front of the church to eat and get some writing done. But on cooler days, he always ended up at Copp’s Hill Cafe. It wasn’t too big or too small, and even though it was right smack dab in front of a tourist attraction, it was limited to local foot traffic. He frequented the café so much that the staff knew him by name and always tried to have his favorite table open for him. Today they weren’t so successful.
He walked into the Café and tipped his hat to the jolly, olive-skinned cook behind the counter. “Ciao Tony” he said. He sauntered up closer to the counter.
“Ciao Al!”  the cook replied. ‘You expectin’ a guest, boss?”
“Nah, do I ever? Why do you ask?”
“Oh. That nice young lady came in and sat at your table before Maurizio could get a chance to save it for you. I thought she might be with you so I didn’t say anything. ‘Scusami!”. Aloysius looked where Tony was pointing with the loaf of Italian bread in his hand.  A pretty young lady sat reading a newspaper, although it looked peculiar and unlike any newspaper he’d ever seen. Her hair was shoulder length and almost jet black, if it wasn’t for the bright red highlights strewn throughout. She was almost as pale as the napkin sitting in front of her. She wore a perfectly fitted black coat over purple leggings and black clunky combat boots on her feet. Aloysius was sad that his seat was gone, but there was plenty more tables to work from. He shrugged and turned back to Tony.
“No worries, pal!” he said. “I’ll just have my usual panini.” This is what he got for showing Mary to the lunch room. Five minutes late to the café and his favorite big table was taken. He walked over to one of the open tables in the middle of the room and got settled in. His laptop took up half the space on the tiny table and he awkwardly tried to position it so there would be room for his computer AND his sandwich when it arrived. Eventually he just put the laptop on his lap, which he felt was appropriate. To make matters worse, just when he was about to start into his panini, his cell phone rang. Juggling the laptop on his lap, and trying not knock over the sandwich on the table WITH the laptop, he carefully leaned over and pulled the phone out from the his bag. “Hey-lo?” he said.
“Hey bud!” It was his friend Nate. “Whats goin’ on?”
“I don’t know man, you called me. What’s going on over there?”
“Not much. Just seeing if you’re going to the party tonight?”
“What party?”
“C’mon bro, you know what party I’m talking about. Xander’s  party?”
“OOH, right! I completely forgot, sorry. Work is slowly killing me more than usual today.
“How’d you guess?”
“When are you gonna get that story finished and make a million dollars off it? Then you’d never have to go back there again.” Aloysius chuckled after that comment.
“It’s not about the money, Xan. I’m taking my time with this one and making sure I get every detail right. So far I think the direction I’m taking it in works. Nowhere near as well as Lovecraft. I’m learning a lot of interesting things about him during this though!  Did you know that in 1997 someone tried to dig up his remains?”
            “Yikes, what happened?”
“Noone really knows. From what I’ve found they got pretty deep in before something spooked them and they ran.”
“Cops don’t know what happened?”
“Not a clue. It was probably crazy ‘Cthulhu Cultists’ or something.”
“People actually believe that stuff?”
“It’s not surprising to me actually. If they can believe in an invisible man judging them in the sky, then they can certainly believe in horrible beings living outside our realm of existence.”
“I guess. Alright man, I’ll leave you too it. See you tonight.”
“Yes sir. See you later.” He hung up the phone and refocused his attention to the computer screen. As he turned his gaze toward the monitor, he noticed the  curious young lady who had stolen his seat was now staring directly at him. Her piercing grey eyes, which he had never seen on a human being before, struck him in such a way that after a few moments had passed, he had to shake his head in order to break the hypnotic gaze. He spent the rest of his lunch break working as hard as he could on his story, eating, and trying really hard to avoid Grey Eyes. Out of the corner of his eye, he could still see her turned in his general direction.
As soon as the clock on his computer screen struck 1, he quickly and clumsily packed up his laptop and hoofed it back to his office trying to avoid the pretty young lady’s magnetic stare. He almost forgot to pay and say goodbye to Tony before he left, He never thought he’d see the day he was excited to escape back to the confines of his cubicle. That was until he heard Mary’s overwhelmingly cheery tone call out “I’ll be right back with you in a minute, ABC!” He really couldn’t win today. Xander’s party couldn’t come soon enough.

I really hope you all enjoyed this little introduction into the world of Aloysius Baxter Cunningham! I'm really enjoying writing about him. His journey to write the perfect Lovecraft story isn't too far off from my own! The things I have learned about the man and his private life so far have been nothing short of astounding. A lot of what you'll read in this story in the coming installments is inspired by it all. 

Any feedback and criticism on this first chapter are encouraged, of course! Keep your eyes peeled for Chapter 2! Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 2, 2012


 Why hello there!

It's been quite a while since i've blogged, hasn't it? It feels good to be back! What brought on this sudden return to the blogosphere, you ask? My newest project! Don't worry, I'm still working on my NaNoWriMo story but "Demonatrix" and my beloved Sadie are being put on a brief hold so I can breathe life into an idea thats been kicking around the ol' noggin recently. In order to clear some space for MORE Sadie ideas, I've gotta get this story out! Now, onto the new idea:

H.P. Lovecraft was, and still is, one the greatest horror writers of our time. The monsters and atmospheres he created are unmatched. To this day, writers are still creating pieces set in Lovecraft's universe that add another branch (or tentacle, I guess) to the "Cthulhu Mythos". It's truly a shame that when he was alive, he never reached the level of popularity he has today. He was loved by his contemporaries, and through them his work and legacy lived on. My new story "The Lovecraft Paradox" is my contribution (even if it's minuscule and nowhere near as phenomenal as the stories that have preceded it) to that ever growing world.

Lovecraft is, along with Edgar Allen Poe, responsible for my interest in writing supernatural fiction. The ability to surround the reader with a feeling of dread and impending doom just with a few choice words is a rare ability and one that Lovecraft himself perfected with ease. In his 32-page essay "Supernatural Horror In Literature", he writes:

"This type of fear-literature must not be confounded with a type externally similar but psychologically widely different; the literature of mere physical fear and the mundanely gruesome. Such writing, to be sure, has its place, as has the conventional or even whimsical or humorous ghost story where formalism or the author's knowing wink removes the true sense of the morbidly unnatural; but these things are not the literature of cosmic fear in its purest sense. The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain -- a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space."

Nothing matches the feeling of dread the reader feels when the crew of the doomed schoonerEmma awakens the Great Old One, Cthulhu. The terrifying image Lovecraft conjures up of the invisible Dunwich horror stays with you long after you've finished the story. Lovecraft truly understood what it took to be a writer of the unusual and strange!

My newest tale "The Lovecraft Paradox" basically turns everything about the Cthulhu Mythos on it's ear. The main character is Aloysius Baxter Cunningham. He's a twenty-something Boston resident stuck at a dead end, boring job who fills up his free time writing stories and attending Steam punk conventions and parties with his friends. While doing research for a story based in the Lovecraft Universe, he encounters a mysterious young lady named Charlotte who leads him into a world of cults, paradoxes and an end-of-the-world scenario he thought only existed in the world of Lovecraft he loves so much. Will he succeed in helping the mysterious Miskatonics prevent the return of the Old Ones? Or will the heads of Arkham House succeed with their plot to destroy the works of the author they were once meant to protect? Is this all happening in Aloysius's head?

For the answers to these questions and more, stay tuned! Chapter 1 is coming soon!