Claws That Pierce the Amber Veil

This story is paired with “The Yellow Sign” from The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 

1. Grimestone Cowgirl

How many days had she spent in the cell? The lack of daylight or any other indication of time had taken its toll, both mentally and physically. The human mind, always striving for some concrete indicator, required a link to the outside world.

Rebecca Thale was a serial killer of some accomplishment, and accustomed to having her way in every way, shape, and form. As such, her current imprisonment was driving her crazy.

Her confines consisted of a dark, concrete-floored room. An unclean mattress stood in one corner, a chair and a bucket in another. No windows, no light switch, (at least none she could find after searching the barren plaster walls), the only egress being a door formed from rusted iron bars.

It was these she had rushed to after first gaining consciousness, shaking the bars and screaming herself silly until her throat turned hoarse. This barred exit produced the only light source, a dim gray luminescence filtering in from someplace beyond her cell.

Her captors had at least kept her fed. Unimaginative but nutritious, plastic bottled water and a packet of biscuits were provided each day (night?) of her confinement. The fact the men depositing the food sensed whether she was asleep or just faking really annoyed her, more so even than meager light or the stench from her latrine.

When she had hollered and complained enough they had at least provided toilet paper.

But escape tricks just weren’t working with these bozos. Feigning sleep near the door proving useless, Rebecca wholeheartedly wished to get her hands on each fucker’s throat. After pulling his face through the bars, she would teach him a lesson he wouldn’t live to regret.

Almost a dozen others had died by either crossing Rebecca or fulfilling her needs. The last two, men blocking her access to something very precious, she had left dying days earlier. And then escape, before being trapped in this miserable place.

Purely by accident Rebecca had discovered a page from a strange and wonderful book. And reading it had haunted her terribly until she discovered her true calling in life. The page: a fragment of a play called ‘The King in Yellow.’ Soon after reading it, the aforementioned King had sent Rebecca bloodthirsty messages of freedom and love. The night she committed her first murder, a crime of passion against someone she dearly loved, He had appeared before her. A diaphanous yellow phantom, He said the deaths of others were a necessity for both their salvations. She had eagerly followed that calling, sacrificing many souls to her beautiful Yellow King.

That mission had run smoothly for a while. She had removed her victims’ faces and searched for secrets beneath their deathly masks. There she had discovered monstrous truths in the stinking gristle beneath each and every pallid mask. The more truths she exposed however, the more the King in Yellow hinted of the beauty of His world.

His world. She only knew it in fragments, a realm of blackly shining stars and terrible red suns, where a strange city crouched before a lake of cloudy depths.

Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Dim Carcosa.

She had read these words from behind her victims’ faces, filling the air with beautiful, bloodstained butterfly words. Now the play, and the masks, were gone, probably forever.

When the police had discovered her murderous spree she ran, leaving the page behind. In her attempts to retrieve her precious fragment, Rebecca had left one man unconscious and a second dying. Then she had abandoned her car and attempted to conceal herself within the sprawling city of Newcastle, and thus followed her current predicament.

Like many, Rebecca suffered the odd phobia. Spiders and darkness were the choice of many she had encountered over the years, those and other silly little things imprinted on the mind from childhood.

Her phobia was an irrational fear of abandoned buildings.

Why this proved so was beyond her. There were no childhood traumas, no accidents or abuse (an least none she could recall) to explain her fears. But whenever she caught sight of a house or building with the doors and windows boarded shut, Rebecca was utterly creeped out. It seemed something sinister lurked within those abandoned, forgotten places and seeing one would always invoke a shudder of revulsion. But, being a wanted fugitive, hiding out in one of those shuttered monstrosities had proven a necessity.

Days earlier, feeling unsafe and conspicuous wandering the back streets of Newcastle, she had turned to one that consisted wholly of empty, shuttered dwellings.

Green metal sheets boarded most, the kind councils used to protect buildings from homeless people and drug addicts. Those were virtually impregnable. Two however were boarded in the usual way, slabs of plywood blocking the windows and doors. One, from the aged, scarred condition of the boards, had looked abandoned for years.

A walk down the alley’s filthy cobblestones followed as she headed towards the rear of the house, and reaching the right door, she had pushed against the rotted wood until the gap was wide enough to squeeze through, tearing and staining her top in the process.

The yard beyond had been in a sorry state. Leant against one wall, two sodden mattresses lay covered in stains. Ripped in places, gobbets of furry stuffing dangled forth from them like cancerous growths. Bulging black bags carpeted the floor, gutted by cats or vermin. The stench emanating from these had proven eye watering. Thankfully, her goal hadn’t been far for between two darkened, dirt-streaked windows she had found a weak-looking green plywood door, sagging within a decay-warped frame. A pair of paint cans flanked the door, each brimming with mucky water. Crammed with worms, the pathetic creatures floated lifelessly, suspended in filth. For the sake of small mercies, the door hadn’t been difficult to force.

Of course, if anything had hinted that entering the house would put her in exactly the predicament she was trying to avoid, Rebecca would’ve turned tail, leaving the garbage dump of a yard to find somewhere else to hide.

The inside hadn’t been an improvement. Stale, rank, the smells of dried grease and garbage circled her nose as she made her first hesitant steps across the spongy carpet. The place had been nauseating, a disgusting hovel probably not much cleaner in its prime.

In retrospect, laid on a crusty mattress with her ruined top propped up behind her head, she couldn’t image there were too many clean derelict houses out there.

A few steps further, straining to discern objects in the half-light, had sealed her doom. Fat clammy hands had found her neck, an instinctive elbow to her attacker’s chest produced nothing but a low grunt. The grip tightening, a sack or something had appeared over her head. BO and grease permeating her nostrils, the hands had proceeded to cruelly crushed her breath away. Darkness without dreams followed, then a rise to consciousness within her dimly lit cell, God knew where, hours or days later.

At least she hadn’t been raped or otherwise interfered with: her only good realization upon regaining consciousness.

If the men bringing food tried such, it would be useful in her desire for escape. One she thought might think this way. His wrinkled mouth always leering, from beneath a mop of dirty gray hair his jaundiced eyes would probe her topless chest. Yet he made no move other than to place her meals onto the cell floor. Dressed in a faded brown suit, feet filthy and bare beneath his tattered turn-ups, that one resembled a college professor down on his luck

Of course she could just remove her bra and jiggle, teasing him in. Rebecca had certainly considered it. The other man, this wouldn’t work on.

Her other jailer appeared quite blind, his watery eyes rolled up into their sockets. Another charmer, a matted black beard covered his face, dirty with dried up foodstuffs. Wearing dark gray trousers and a tatty brown turtleneck, stained pink socks covered his gnarled feet. The man’s small head, scabby for the most part, was spotted with tiny black hairs, curly like pubes. Lips constantly mumbling, she hadn’t even bothered talking to him.

But speaking to his companion proved useless anyway; the man’s leering expression always remained unfazed when she hurled threats and abuse towards him.

What made her plight more urgent were the other, less human things visiting her cell. Twice Rebecca had caught them, lurking around the bars as she awoke. Disappearing seconds later, their strange forms had resembled small, sandy blond horses, the brows of their flat, oddly human faces sloping back towards tapered necks

Her first reaction one of fear, the sight had sent Rebecca up against the wall, terror trickling through her spine. But the two beings stood silent, unthreatening even, bobbing their heads before disappearing from the doorway.

Upon rushing the bars to gain a second look she had found them gone, vanished into the grayness beyond.

Were they hallucinations? Her forced stimulus deprivation certainly invoked the right mental environment. And the little yellow creatures, they undoubtedly resembled something from a stress-induced fantasy.

Yellow, and the first supra-mundane apparitions witnessed since her last encounter with the King. Where they a sign, an obscure message from her beloved?

So after today, and her second sighting of the beasts, Rebecca decided it high time she vacate the premises. First though, a weapon was required, but what to use? Having taken her bearings days earlier, her options here were severely limited.

There was the chair. Rickety wood, it had little thickness and even less weight about it – hardly suitable as a club. One of the walls bore a thin copper pipe along its base, but this proved too well attached for use. The bucket of feces perhaps? Nasty, and undoubtedly apt, but considering her captors’ dire level of hygiene anyway…

She paced the room, ruminating her options, and Rebecca decided on the chair. She headed towards the bars, squinted through the gloom, and tried ascertaining whether one of the men lurked nearby. Difficult to distinguish anything in the half-light beyond, she took her chances and hurried to the room’s far corner, retrieving the chair as she did.

A few hefty kicks snapped a leg, the splintering retort resounding like a gunshot. She froze, holding her breath. Luckily, no answering sounds followed. Kneeling in the darkness she examined the broken leg for sharpness.

Not bad, not bad. The splintered end felt sharp to her prying fingers. Not the best of weapons, still it could pierce flesh. She tucked the stake into her pants, and realizing she probably had a long wait ahead, dragged the mattress towards the bars.

Curling up against the lumpy mattress she took the weapon and examined its point with the tip of her forefinger. When it came to killing her victim, she prayed the cell’s key lay somewhere on his body.

*   *   *

The wait was a long one. With no stimulus but her own fatigued thoughts, time plodded slowly, her eyelids growing leaden. Worried that she might drop off and thus miss her window of opportunity, she didn’t dare shut them, even for a second.

At more than one point Rebecca feared of his ever coming, then miraculously, she heard shuffling feet approach her cell.

She shifted to her knees and readied herself for the attack. Then, frightened she might slip and lose her footing, she thought to leave the mattress and wait beside the bars. But… too late to risk moving now: he was seconds from the door. She took a deep breath, gripped the stake in her right hand, and drew it back in preparation for the thrust. Her grip growing slick with anticipation, as the dark shape crossed the bars she released her pent up breath and anger.

Rebecca leapt forward and swung the weapon in a downward arc. The ensuing force pierced the stomach of her most maligned jailor, the leering professor. An expression of surprise filling his wrinkled face and he gasped, shaking his head in confusion.

Bottled water fell from one hand, Ritz cheesy crackers from the other.

Rebecca stepped to the bars and snarled, drawing the wood from his gut. It escaped his body wetly, his blood pumping towards her hand. A red trickle appeared between his lips, his Adam’s Apple bobbing wildly against a gulping throat. He stumbled, nearing collapse.

She grabbed a handful of filthy hair, and pulled him firmly towards the bars. The man’s ailing strength no match for her, she wedged his face between them. Hot blood spattered her shoes and she smiled. His mouth issuing a low whine, she silenced him with a hiss.

“Shhhh, dying bastard. It is a fearful thing, is it not, to fall into the hands of the living Goddess?”

She laughed at the terror her words invoked, returning the stake to his chest again and again. When she was finished, the wood was a blunt fragment hacking against wet, ruined flesh.

Panting heavily, she released his hair and stepped back from her handiwork. Satisfaction followed as his limp form slumped to the floor. Grinning in triumph, she gave the corpse a swift kick.

That felt good.

Her hands were sticky with blood so she wiped them dry against her pants. She leant forward through the bars to tug the dead weight forward. Going to her knees, she reached for his trousers. Shuddering at the sour, pissy smell, she poked hesitant fingers through his pockets, searching for a key. Damp with blood, the pockets revealed nothing but biscuit crumbs and a soiled hanky. His jacket proved just as empty.

“Damn it!” She turned from the bars to pace the room, knocking the bucket over in her rage. The piss and feces, splashing against the wall, angered her all the more. She returned to the corpse, kicking its chest, then sank to the mattress, frustrated tears forming in her eyes.

Thwarted, with nothing but a festering corpse for her trouble.

Then she noticed the strangely wrought symbol scrawled across the handkerchief. Wiping her eyes, she retrieved the cloth to examine the curious image. A three-pronged yellow squiggle twirling from a central spot, it was interesting, but couldn’t aid in her escape. Tucking it in her pocket anyway, it was now she noticed the object glinting upon the corpse.

Her last kick had disturbed his tattered shirt’s already distressed state. The top buttons dislodged, a sunken chest was revealed. And dangling from the string wrapped around his scrawny neck were two small, silver keys.

Keys! She reached over, grabbed the corpse’s shoulder, and tugged at the tiny pieces of metal. With a satisfying snap the string came loose, falling to the floor. Opening her hand, anxiously fingering the keys, she was eager to try them.

One, partially coated in rust, resembled a car key. The other, slightly larger, looked built for a lever arch lock. She whispered a small prayer and stood to examine the lock from her side. Well no time like the present. She reached round and hesitantly slipped the key into the hole.

The first turn proved fruitless, the key wedging halfway in the lock. After another try a cold trepidation filled her body. Trapped forever in the dingy cell, this fear saw her twisting harder. Rewarded by a click, the door slid outwards.

Freedom, finally! She retrieved her top from the mattress and squeezed through the gate, now wedged against the body blocking it. After stepping over the corpse she finally glimpsed the area surrounding her cell. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t much to see.

A wide corridor, its bland circular concrete formed one continuous wall trailing off from either side of the doorway. Underground? It certainly resembled a subway tunnel. And Newcastle did boast its own subway system. Perhaps this was some abandoned section? Regardless, to escape Rebecca needed to explore her new environment.

Taking the right-hand path seemed the most obvious choice. A dim light issued from that end of the tunnel. The route to her left drifted off towards ever-gathering darkness.

So assuming light equaled daylight, she stepped down the tunnel. The floor tiles, crusty with dirt, transformed her footsteps to bare whispers within the otherwise silent passageway. Away from her cell and the rank odors therein, the air grew dusty, old.

Rebecca hadn’t forgotten her other jailer. Poking the keys between her knuckles, she formed an impromptu weapon.

One blind man shouldn’t prove a problem, but still…

Four more gates appeared along her path, evenly spaced between the concrete. The first and those following stood slightly ajar. Feeling no urge to explore, the stench from each made her balk. Rotten, musky reptile smells, she passed each warily.

She was counting now on whatever lay at the end of the tunnel.

Fortunately, the next soul she encountered was the blind man.

The voice came first, however.

The tunnel ended at a t-junction, partially lit by an array of circular ceiling fluorescents. Only the right-hand side stood illuminated, revealing crumbling concrete walls and the grimy white tiles beneath her feet. From this direction low, mumbling words echoed through the air. And light, more light lay ahead.

She continued onward, the path taking an uphill slant as she walked.

The words grew louder, forming discernable yet gibberish sentences.

“Brand new sound, yes still survival.” The voice was rich, deeply resonant.

Bare yards from the tunnel’s termination, Rebecca slowed her steps.

“My swelled brain is candid,” it continued. “One time for your mind then live through this.”

The tiles continued after the tunnel ended, flooring a new, more spacious section. Square with a high ceiling, this new room bore walls of cream plaster, dirty with handprints and empty but for one lone soul.

“Around the noble god are borrowed things.”

If not for her recent mishaps, Rebecca would’ve laughed. The spectacle of the bearded blind man dressed in only his underpants and jumper made her smirk regardless.

“When the seed has sown flowers, whose is it?” he said, lifting something red from a bucket in his hand. Whatever it was, it appeared fleshy. Blood dripped from his hand as he tossed the grisly contents, the stuff falling sloppily towards a rectangular pit at his feet. Whatever lay within scratched and scuffled every time he threw the crimson offal.

“Die or fire the arrow of faith.”

Yeah whatever dude.

Beyond the blind man, beyond the pit, stood a green steel door. Above it hung an illuminated exit sign.

“There is no peace where you are going,” he droned. “Come on, don’t give up the pineapple.”

Her thoughts filled with escape, Rebecca scurried across the room. Nearing the blind man, she aimed a punched towards the small of his back.

“Leaking sound does not mean…” He lost his balance and stumbled towards the pit.

She continued without pause. Behind her his words became screeches as whatever he’d been feeding turned its attention to far livelier prey.

Rebecca pushed the door without looking back. She didn’t need to: the man’s wailing screams were satisfaction enough.

The door remained ajar behind her. It illuminated a shadowy stairwell, dark stone steps curling towards the surface world. She took them eagerly, two, three at a time as the screams beneath her terminating abruptly. A few turns later she reached the stairs termination. There, a concrete balcony led to a green fire escape door.

She stopped to catch her breath and stared in puzzlement, then horror at the squirming shapes blocking her path. Those little yellow horses… no, more like dogs, she realized, noting their paws.

“Ugh, no way.” What she’d thought were two animals, actually proved to be one. Bizarre even excluding their human faces, the creatures were joined at their waists. Demented Siamese twins shuffling in the dust, their legs waved limply, the hind ones scrabbling against each other. Their glazed eyes stared blindly, the double-headed thing hissing gobbets of foam towards the concrete.

Unable to turn away, the obscene spectacle hypnotized her. Only the sight and smell of it defecating released Rebecca from her funk.

What monster could perpetrate such horror?

She unfurled her ruined top and threw it across the ruined beast.

With careful movements she stepped around it, them. Avoiding the thing’s pawing legs she found herself precariously close to the balcony’s edge. A moment later and she was safe again.

She pocketed the keys and reached for the door. A sudden electric tingle passed through her and she shivered, brushing at her face.

Rebecca took the door’s center bar and pushed, revealing clear daylight beyond.

2. The Amber City (Slouching Towards Carcosa)

“What in the world?”

Instead of Newcastle, she was confronted by a beautiful vista of turrets and domes. A sepia tinted city, it reached far across the horizon, surrounding her in amber glory.

The door behind forgotten, she entered one of scores of twisting cobbled streets, lined with buildings hewn from plaster and wood. Doors and windows formed from delicate horseshoe arches, the place was beautiful, breathtaking even. The cloudless vanilla sky, the cobbles and flat slate roofs, everything glowed with an amorous amber tint. The air smelled of autumn mixed with cinnamon.

Tiny black stars speckled the sky. Golden blades of grass poked up between the cobbles. This city, this wonderful land, was a sharp contrast to the grimy world she had departed.

Rebecca suspected her new location. But dare she believe the unbelievable? The proof lay all about her.

Aiming to explore, she followed the winding street. Stepping across lanes populated by tiny copper scorpions, dancing and flirting in chitinous circles, she encountered huge strutting peacocks, nonchalant and dignified as they fanned their majestic sapphire plumes.

This is… I’m speechless.

Bridges spanned the roofs of many taller buildings, casting narrow shadows across her path. Upon one she spied her first inhabitants. Brown robed, hooded beings sporting white, many-eyed masks, they bowed elegantly above her, forming curious signs from their eight fingered, multi-jointed hands.

She smiled, walking as if in a dream.

Soon, the gently ascending street opened out upon a boulevard centered by a small circular fountain. Atop the fountain, three armless brass cherubs spewed water, the babbling liquid filling the stone basin below.

She thought to rest awhile and sat at the bowl’s edge, washing her blood-caked fingers within its soothing depths. Alongside square silver coins, tiny stone idols filled the basin’s bed, beautiful in their simplicity. She smiled. The figures rudimentary heads bore crowns, tiny yellow kings offered to the depths. A sudden movement, a shadow falling across her, surprised Rebecca from her reverie.

A robed denizen stood facing her, its hand holding a gold-jeweled lantern. Filled with water, miniscule glowing jellyfish swam inside.

Beneath white leather gloves she counted four fingers and a thumb.

“Ahem,” the figure said, his voice deep but gentle.

Placing the lamp against the fountain’s edge he unhooked the mask, lowering his hood.

“Young lady, I do believe you’re a little lost,” he said in a clipped, aristocratic accent. He paused before adding politely, “If you don’t mind my saying.”

The man looked in his early thirties. With the slim brown handlebar moustache and glossy center-parted hair, he appeared distinctly Victorian. He placed his mask beside the lamp and offered his hand. He took Rebecca’s still wet fingers as she continued staring, utterly dumbfounded.

After a gentle shake he continued in his charming English accent. “As soon as I heard there was a stranger wandering the city I knew I had to find you.”

Blood-spattered white trainers, equally grimy gray jogging bottoms, she sat topless but for a black bra. Rebecca looked down sheepishly before addressing the polite stranger.

“I suppose I do look a little conspicuous.”

He laughed. “Well no matter, we don’t judge entities on their appearances here.” She looked up to find him smiling. “By the way, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rupert, although when I arrived here I lived under the pseudonym ‘Agent Grandin’.”

“I’m Rebecca,” she replied. “Could you please tell me where the hell I am?”

He sat beside her and said, “Let’s make a deal. I’ll tell you everything you need to know, if you will answer me this one simple question.” He paused, his grin revealing white, perfectly formed teeth, “Have you found the Yellow Sign?”

“What?” she flustered. “I don’t know what you mean. What kind of sign?”

Unperturbed by her confusion he said, “Well I suppose it doesn’t really matter; you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have the sign.” He manipulated his fingers, creating the arcane symbol the others had used earlier. “And ‘here’ is, for your information, Carcosa.”

He took her hand. Raising Rebecca to her feet he indicated the world around them with an extravagant flourish of his arm.

“And the rest my dear, is the stuff dreams are made of!”

*   *   *

They walked together beneath the weirdly patterned sky, Rebecca’s new companion leading her through the fantastic city. To her astonished gaze, wonders were revealed she had only ever read hinted of in a long lost, fragmented story. Through twisting streets he guided her across open squares filled with flittering butterflies, their yellow-winged forms landing atop cages packed with animated corpses.

He said that he too once lived in the mundane world of man, until a wonderful book had transported him to this land of awesome wonders.

The King in Yellow.

His former masters, ‘The Yellow Cross,’ had used him to destroy copies of the play. One day however, his curiosity had gotten the better of him. Rupert then awoke to a world beyond all Earthly pains.

The Yellow Cross: Rebecca’s hunters, till her escape here.

Her story followed, of her reading a page and her visions of the King. The murders, her flight, ending with her imprisonment within Newcastle’s underground tunnels. To Rebecca’s surprise, her companion explained that her jailors were agents of the King, sent to guide her to this realm. Holding little concern over their deaths, he said a better life would blossom from their jaded human flesh. A description of the Carcosan dynasty followed, of Camilla and Cassilda and a hereditary disease made flesh. Their namesake lakes lay beyond the city, connecting Carcosa to Planet Earth and beyond.

*   *   *

Sitting before one such lake, Rebecca watched dreamy white clouds lapping against a shore of golden sand. Twin suns rose from behind the ethereal lake, their dull red corpulence transforming white to gentle rose. Seated beside Rupert on a bench of rusted iron, his jellyfish lamp glowed brightly between their legs.

Fires being forbidden in Carcosa, the luminous fish were used exclusively for illumination.

Black and white striped geckos circled the bench, some approaching Rebecca before timidly dashing away. Using the bones embedded in the beach, the little beasts had made bleached white castles, tiny monarchs of the dunes.

“I just wish,” she said, picking at a bloodstain on her shoe, “I’d had the opportunity to read the play fully before arriving here.”

Rupert turned, patting her arm. “Well they say the best way to understand a place is to immerse oneself in the culture.” Then, “You remember the palace I showed you, near the center of the city?”

Of course Rebecca remembered! She couldn’t easily forget such a magnificent piece of architecture. Hundreds of feet tall, huge octagonal turrets flanked each corner: legs for the lion’s head looming above the arched entranceway. Its mane formed from twisting stone serpents, their myriad eyes glowed with multicolored jellyfish lights. Cathedral-like in grandeur, it stood lined with ribbed, obsidian stone columns, pointed arches forming elegant windows across its four walls.

“The palace,” he continued. “There’s to be a masked ball there tonight, a ball with an impressive and quite familiar guest list.” He paused to contemplate her. “You dear, are not the least of them.” Retrieving the lamp, his quick movements sent curious lizards scattering in his wake. “We can do one better than have you read the play,” he added. “If you so desire, you can take part in the event itself.”

Rebecca looked up in surprise. She uncrossed her legs and turned to examine his face.

“Won’t it be dangerous? Wouldn’t it be better to watch from a distance?”

Rupert, sensing her trepidation, took her hand.

“Dangerous? Not with the parts we’re to play.” He squeezed her hand reassuringly. “For this is our reward for our service to the King!”

Rebecca had no ready reply, so just smiled.

“And my dear, in Carcosa, there is no time like the present.”

Rupert stood and replaced his mask. Again offering his hand, he led her back towards the city.

As they walked, Rebecca examined her partially clothed body with distaste. She wasn’t exactly dressed for the upcoming event.

Appearing to read her thoughts, Rupert regarded her attire before saying, “Trust me, after seeing the other costumes you’ll feel quite welcome. The bloodstains will fit in especially well.”

He fell silent, as did she upon reaching the city’s outskirts. Its roofs and domes stood crimson now, bloodstained red from the looming suns.

Hand in hand with her companion, Rebecca happily admired the busy streets. The inhabitants of Carcosa, lining their windows and doors with jellyfish lamps, waved at their passing, some tossing dandelions and gory eyeballs in their path. Compared to the world she had abandoned, this place was a beautiful dream come true.

“The dreamer awakes,” Rupert said, squeezing her hand.

NBR5BarrasssmallGlynn Barrass lives in the North East of England and has written over a hundred short stories. Glynn has also edited anthologies for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu fiction line and Dark Regions Press—Eldritch Chrome, Steampunk Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, and World War Cthulhu—as well as writing material for Chaosium’s flagship roleplaying game.