Dawn of The Dragons

Invictus

Sonbather

The Snowman

The Outsider

H. P. LOVECRAFT

 

That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe;
And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form
Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
Were long be-nightmared.

—Keats.

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me—to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

I know not where I was born, save that the castle was infinitely old and infinitely horrible; full of dark passages and having high ceilings where the eye could find only cobwebs and shadows. The stones in the crumbling corridors seemed always hideously damp, and there was an accursed smell everywhere, as of the piled-up corpses of dead generations. It was never light, so that I used sometimes to light candles and gaze steadily at them for relief; nor was there any sun outdoors, since the terrible trees grew high above the topmost accessible tower. There was one black tower which reached above the trees into the unknown outer sky, but that was partly ruined and could not be ascended save by a well-nigh impossible climb up the sheer wall, stone by stone.

I must have lived years in this place, but I cannot measure the time. Beings must have cared for my needs, yet I cannot recall any person except myself; or anything alive but the noiseless rats and bats and spiders. I think that whoever nursed me must have been shockingly aged, since my first conception of a living person was that of something mockingly like myself, yet distorted, shrivelled, and decaying like the castle. To me there was nothing grotesque in the bones and skeletons that strowed some of the stone crypts deep down among the foundations. I fantastically associated these things with every-day events, and thought them more natural than the coloured pictures of living beings which I found in many of the mouldy books. From such books I learned all that I know. No teacher urged or guided me, and I do not recall hearing any human voice in all those years—not even my own; for although I had read of speech, I had never thought to try to speak aloud. My aspect was a matter equally unthought of, for there were no mirrors in the castle, and I merely regarded myself by instinct as akin to the youthful figures I saw drawn and painted in the books. I felt conscious of youth because I remembered so little.

Outside, across the putrid moat and under the dark mute trees, I would often lie and dream for hours about what I read in the books; and would longingly picture myself amidst gay crowds in the sunny world beyond the endless forest. Once I tried to escape from the forest, but as I went farther from the castle the shade grew denser and the air more filled with brooding fear; so that I ran frantically back lest I lose my way in a labyrinth of nighted silence.

So through endless twilights I dreamed and waited, though I knew not what I waited for. Then in the shadowy solitude my longing for light grew so frantic that I could rest no more, and I lifted entreating hands to the single black ruined tower that reached above the forest into the unknown outer sky. And at last I resolved to scale that tower, fall though I might; since it were better to glimpse the sky and perish, than to live without ever beholding day.

In the dank twilight I climbed the worn and aged stone stairs till I reached the level where they ceased, and thereafter clung perilously to small footholds leading upward. Ghastly and terrible was that dead, stairless cylinder of rock; black, ruined, and deserted, and sinister with startled bats whose wings made no noise. But more ghastly and terrible still was the slowness of my progress; for climb as I might, the darkness overhead grew no thinner, and a new chill as of haunted and venerable mould assailed me. I shivered as I wondered why I did not reach the light, and would have looked down had I dared. I fancied that night had come suddenly upon me, and vainly groped with one free hand for a window embrasure, that I might peer out and above, and try to judge the height I had attained.

All at once, after an infinity of awesome, sightless crawling up that concave and desperate precipice, I felt my head touch a solid thing, and I knew I must have gained the roof, or at least some kind of floor. In the darkness I raised my free hand and tested the barrier, finding it stone and immovable. Then came a deadly circuit of the tower, clinging to whatever holds the slimy wall could give; till finally my testing hand found the barrier yielding, and I turned upward again, pushing the slab or door with my head as I used both hands in my fearful ascent. There was no light revealed above, and as my hands went higher I knew that my climb was for the nonce ended; since the slab was the trap-door of an aperture leading to a level stone surface of greater circumference than the lower tower, no doubt the floor of some lofty and capacious observation chamber. I crawled through carefully, and tried to prevent the heavy slab from falling back into place; but failed in the latter attempt. As I lay exhausted on the stone floor I heard the eerie echoes of its fall, but hoped when necessary to pry it open again.

Believing I was now at a prodigious height, far above the accursed branches of the wood, I dragged myself up from the floor and fumbled about for windows, that I might look for the first time upon the sky, and the moon and stars of which I had read. But on every hand I was disappointed; since all that I found were vast shelves of marble, bearing odious oblong boxes of disturbing size. More and more I reflected, and wondered what hoary secrets might abide in this high apartment so many aeons cut off from the castle below. Then unexpectedly my hands came upon a doorway, where hung a portal of stone, rough with strange chiselling. Trying it, I found it locked; but with a supreme burst of strength I overcame all obstacles and dragged it open inward. As I did so there came to me the purest ecstasy I have ever known; for shining tranquilly through an ornate grating of iron, and down a short stone passageway of steps that ascended from the newly found doorway, was the radiant full moon, which I had never before seen save in dreams and in vague visions I dared not call memories.

Fancying now that I had attained the very pinnacle of the castle, I commenced to rush up the few steps beyond the door; but the sudden veiling of the moon by a cloud caused me to stumble, and I felt my way more slowly in the dark. It was still very dark when I reached the grating—which I tried carefully and found unlocked, but which I did not open for fear of falling from the amazing height to which I had climbed. Then the moon came out.

Most daemoniacal of all shocks is that of the abysmally unexpected and grotesquely unbelievable. Nothing I had before undergone could compare in terror with what I now saw; with the bizarre marvels that sight implied. The sight itself was as simple as it was stupefying, for it was merely this: instead of a dizzying prospect of treetops seen from a lofty eminence, there stretched around me on a level through the grating nothing less than the solid ground, decked and diversified by marble slabs and columns, and overshadowed by an ancient stone church, whose ruined spire gleamed spectrally in the moonlight.

Half unconscious, I opened the grating and staggered out upon the white gravel path that stretched away in two directions. My mind, stunned and chaotic as it was, still held the frantic craving for light; and not even the fantastic wonder which had happened could stay my course. I neither knew nor cared whether my experience was insanity, dreaming, or magic; but was determined to gaze on brilliance and gaiety at any cost. I knew not who I was or what I was, or what my surroundings might be; though as I continued to stumble along I became conscious of a kind of fearsome latent memory that made my progress not wholly fortuitous. I passed under an arch out of that region of slabs and columns, and wandered through the open country; sometimes following the visible road, but sometimes leaving it curiously to tread across meadows where only occasional ruins bespoke the ancient presence of a forgotten road. Once I swam across a swift river where crumbling, mossy masonry told of a bridge long vanished.

Over two hours must have passed before I reached what seemed to be my goal, a venerable ivied castle in a thickly wooded park; maddeningly familiar, yet full of perplexing strangeness to me. I saw that the moat was filled in, and that some of the well-known towers were demolished; whilst new wings existed to confuse the beholder. But what I observed with chief interest and delight were the open windows—gorgeously ablaze with light and sending forth sound of the gayest revelry. Advancing to one of these I looked in and saw an oddly dressed company, indeed; making merry, and speaking brightly to one another. I had never, seemingly, heard human speech before; and could guess only vaguely what was said. Some of the faces seemed to hold expressions that brought up incredibly remote recollections; others were utterly alien.

I now stepped through the low window into the brilliantly lighted room, stepping as I did so from my single bright moment of hope to my blackest convulsion of despair and realisation. The nightmare was quick to come; for as I entered, there occurred immediately one of the most terrifying demonstrations I had ever conceived. Scarcely had I crossed the sill when there descended upon the whole company a sudden and unheralded fear of hideous intensity, distorting every face and evoking the most horrible screams from nearly every throat. Flight was universal, and in the clamour and panic several fell in a swoon and were dragged away by their madly fleeing companions. Many covered their eyes with their hands, and plunged blindly and awkwardly in their race to escape; overturning furniture and stumbling against the walls before they managed to reach one of the many doors.

The cries were shocking; and as I stood in the brilliant apartment alone and dazed, listening to their vanishing echoes, I trembled at the thought of what might be lurking near me unseen. At a casual inspection the room seemed deserted, but when I moved toward one of the alcoves I thought I detected a presence there—a hint of motion beyond the golden-arched doorway leading to another and somewhat similar room. As I approached the arch I began to perceive the presence more clearly; and then, with the first and last sound I ever uttered—a ghastly ululation that revolted me almost as poignantly as its noxious cause—I beheld in full, frightful vividness the inconceivable, indescribable, and unmentionable monstrosity which had by its simple appearance changed a merry company to a herd of delirious fugitives.

I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny, unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and desolation; the putrid, dripping eidolon of unwholesome revelation; the awful baring of that which the merciful earth should always hide. God knows it was not of this world—or no longer of this world—yet to my horror I saw in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines a leering, abhorrent travesty on the human shape; and in its mouldy, disintegrating apparel an unspeakable quality that chilled me even more.

I was almost paralysed, but not too much so to make a feeble effort toward flight; a backward stumble which failed to break the spell in which the nameless, voiceless monster held me. My eyes, bewitched by the glassy orbs which stared loathsomely into them, refused to close; though they were mercifully blurred, and shewed the terrible object but indistinctly after the first shock. I tried to raise my hand to shut out the sight, yet so stunned were my nerves that my arm could not fully obey my will. The attempt, however, was enough to disturb my balance; so that I had to stagger forward several steps to avoid falling. As I did so I became suddenly and agonisingly aware of the nearnessof the carrion thing, whose hideous hollow breathing I half fancied I could hear. Nearly mad, I found myself yet able to throw out a hand to ward off the foetid apparition which pressed so close; when in one cataclysmic second of cosmic nightmarishness and hellish accident my fingers touched the rotting outstretched paw of the monster beneath the golden arch.

I did not shriek, but all the fiendish ghouls that ride the night-wind shrieked for me as in that same second there crashed down upon my mind a single and fleeting avalanche of soul-annihilating memory. I knew in that second all that had been; I remembered beyond the frightful castle and the trees, and recognised the altered edifice in which I now stood; I recognised, most terrible of all, the unholy abomination that stood leering before me as I withdrew my sullied fingers from its own.

But in the cosmos there is balm as well as bitterness, and that balm is nepenthe. In the supreme horror of that second I forgot what had horrified me, and the burst of black memory vanished in a chaos of echoing images. In a dream I fled from that haunted and accursed pile, and ran swiftly and silently in the moonlight. When I returned to the churchyard place of marble and went down the steps I found the stone trap-door immovable; but I was not sorry, for I had hated the antique castle and the trees. Now I ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-wind, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile. I know that light is not for me, save that of the moon over the rock tombs of Neb, nor any gaiety save the unnamed feasts of Nitokris beneath the Great Pyramid; yet in my new wildness and freedom I almost welcome the bitterness of alienage.

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

The Sins Of The Father

ADRIAN VINO

“Thanks for that, Joffrey. We at the network truly appreciate your time,” he said without nuance and pukable normalcy. His typical choice in tie was a daunting distraction. That fucking hairdo was nothing less of hilarious, although I feel that that was understandable–knowing it stemmed from jealousy. The way an eagle covets the shade of a large Oak tree, despite its immobility.

“My pleasure,” I replied succinctly.

 

You can see my father in the interview become…umm…uncomfortable. He seems calm, doesn’t he? In his winter-green sweater with his legs crossed, quietly clutching his knee, distantly sullen. My uniform matched that ridiculous sweater–the producers told him to wear that color, so that the viewers at home could see me as a very human extension of him, to see that I also, like you and everybody else, has a father. I could feel him breathing, his exhales calculated and baboonish. The interviewer asked us if we ever discussed the murders and my cannibalism, my bean pushing, you know, the whole lot. I replied that we did not since it was all covered in the media anyway. The truth is, my father never brought it up because he, also like myself, was guilty; he was a monster just like me in his own way. But we sat there, together as I gave this clown and his camera, what they wanted; the gladiator, the cannibal, the quiet cretan, the strange lover, the cunning killer, the hellish homo,the son now repentant of his salacious stories. I was angry, and fucking angry, for my father had done things nobody knew about, but me. He knew I knew, on some level. We would sit together in agreement, locked in our moments for the sake of betraying some kind of etiquette, and avoiding confrontation. After all, he was my father. I gave them all that muck about Jesus Christ and how he created the world–what kind of moron believes this nonsense, anyway? My father was a sinner because he believed in a world where things you want and shouldn’t have, are sinful; I am a “sinner” because it keeps me from receiving an unholy ass beating in here in the joint, and extra desserts from time to time.

 

I will never tell of the reasons I was angry, I will not confess its origins; I have caused enough damage. In my path, I made conquerors my victims, and victims my conquerors.

 

I still wonder, to this day, what the phrase “the sins of the father” really means.

 

 

Chimera

ADRIAN VINO

Blurring with candor–the badinage statically peeked in from a small portal to the other side

Demigod of the demimonde, the idea delivered drained the rain that once teared down

 

Fever dreams betwixt the maternal thighs

how calm and heavy sweaty sighs

Slouched on leather couch

manicured toe nails pushing up

and how I tried

 

The others innocuously cooed with black feathers sprouting from their throats

And feces spread above in taloned patters on the ceiling

Do you remember the time? She said

I do remember the time, I replied

My sweet child, my first-born, I hated the melancholy look in your eye

I know, that is why I looked away and eventually stared at the ground with you

with them with everyone with always

 

I saw your cousin kissing you by the water well that winter night

Nobody saw me

I saw you

 

Seven warm winds from the east brought the cold breath from the west and the veins of dying trees ached for the day and scoffed at prayers for rain

 

clement benign

wind broken in pipe

small running steps

through monstrous tunnels

splashing up slime

in the water that whined

I did chase chimera

and chimera I did find

  ∞

 

 

Almost Done Here

ADRIAN VINO

I’m writing this letter. Well, it’s not really a letter. It’s more like an entry. I heard on the television that writing your feelings down might help with your stress. And that it might help with your anger. Do you think that’s true? Hell, I wonder if it will help me get laid. I guess I can dream. I like playing checkers and watching birds sing. The yellow ones are my favorite. Sometimes I watch the Red Robins when I get sick of all the yellow. I also like the Italian women, at least all the ones I’ve seen in the girly magazines. So, anyway, I finally got around to it: I ordered the most beautiful rifle in the world–the Carcano rifle. I think it was made in the 1940s. Kinda heavy too. I wait patiently for it to arrive. March 12 is when I sent off for it. What the hell is taking so long? You know the japs are pretty smart fellas? For my money they’re gonna be leading the world one day, I’m telling you. Their ladies aren’t too ugly, either. Well, anyway, I paid extra dough for one of them precision fancy Japanese scopes to get fitted with it. I wonder if it’s gonna rain today. The rain scared all of us kids in the orphanage when I was growing up. You know the orphanage and the Marines have a lot of things in common, but I’m not gonna go into that. Stresses me out thinking about the past too much. Remember me telling you I was gonna get rid of that military general? Well, I bungled that. Oh, well, it was a fun try. My wife would leave me if she knew the things that go on in my head. But Russian broads are different, you know. They’re not like American girls. They know how to treat a man. But sometimes just some–

 

 

“Darling, are you still in here pushing that pencil again?” She said holding a glass of lemonade and wearing the lavender apron she thought made her look like an endearing house-wife.

“I’m almost done, here. Pour me a glass will you?”

 

 

 

Notable Quotes

J. G. Ballard

“All over the world major museums have bowed to the influence of Disney and become theme parks in their own right. The past, whether Renaissance Italy or Ancient Egypt, is re-assimilated and homogenized into its most digestible form. Desperate for the new, but disappointed with anything but the familiar, we recolonize past and future. The same trend can be seen in personal relationships, in the way people are expected to package themselves, their emotions and sexuality, in attractive and instantly appealing forms.”

 

 

Grave

ADRIAN VINO

What atrocities had this aching angel of a fierce fall, turned to and tried and finally held fast all which she thought was good? The upside-down flames of red crashed against her pale and speckled shoulders, and she bowed with a curve and she hissed quite unhinged. It was a dance the way so maddeningly macabre her bare feet gyrated amid the wet grass under a missing moon, cutting large orange and yellow leaves to pieces. The night breeze beckoned and beckoned until the stars faded into an oblivious farewell. Her gown, half wet, clung to her breasts and wrapped between her thighs and nestled neatly in her cunt. An ivory temple–this maiden, with her pallid pillars turning into small hands with thin fingers did point into the infinite void–lush and languid the l’appel du vide. I had lost my place upon the planet as I did what shouldn’t and watched her unwelcomed from afar…mouth agape and tears streaming, cutting as they raced, my hands were two stuttering spiders searching for a hidden home. My feet complained of all the hours and all the days and weeks and years, I had stood waiting with supplication for a saint to save me, that would not come. Of sinners and saints, I know nothing of, for self-preservation is the highest law. And If he arrives and tempts you say, “yes” if yes is what you need to say. And if she appears pleasantly and queer, say, “no” if no is what you want to play. Show me the perfect lover and I’ll show you the grave.

 

 

Before I Would

ADRIAN VINO

The sand felt soft in its warm coarseness as my toes made fists while she waved to me from the middle of the waves. Her blonde hair looked almost black. She was wearing the bathing suit her last boyfriend had bought her. I pretended not to know. She looked great in it, and it mattered not to me where it came from.  The golden strands from the sun then turned her hair to red as dancing shimmering diamonds bounced upon the water all around her: her smile blazed through the distance between us and her eyes squinted from overwhelming joy. I grinned as I imagined her pretty feet moving back and forth in the murky salt-water scaring all the jellyfish away.

She had convinced me to wear shorts; I never wore shorts–my skinny legs always kept me away from swimming pools and beaches as a child. My right hand shielded me from the sunlight as I bent slightly forward so as to see her better.

 

Her hand touched her lips and then extended to me as she puckered her mouth.

 

Satie’s Gnosienne No. 3 began in my mind but slightly off-key, and I knew…I knew she would say goodbye before I would.

 

 

And maybe, I already had.