Friday, May 16, 2014


"Manhattan is as far away from your God as you ever imagined you could be. It's why you moved three thousand miles from home."

"Your mother died before you were old enough to remember her, and your father was a stranger to you and your younger sister both--a stone-faced, religious figure who watched and controlled your every move. For love, you used to tell yourself. For love. You were baptized and raised in St. Mark's Lutheran Church, a three-storied, multi-basemented labyrinth of cement and stone overlooking a sliver of the San Juan Straits: it was a second home, but no different than the first. Prayers and scripture at meals and gatherings, evenings of moral lectures and study, lengthy church sermons in the candlelit nave as you squiggled against hard granite pews like a pinned worm. Escape took the form of public school classrooms and part-time jobs in musty fabric stores--but as you transformed over the years into a young woman, the leash grew as taut as your father's palpable, unspoken fear. For what, of what, you never asked and he never said."

"When it became clear that there would be no college in your future, no future in your future except church and church and church, you excused yourself from scripture study one lovely afternoon in your eighteenth year, taking a purse packed with a single maxi-pad and many small bills, leaving your coat behind. The hallways were bright with summer sun and chalkboard dust, and the overhead lights shook slightly from repair work in the basement--a sixty-year old foundation problem that had yet to be fixed. You walked down the stairs, past the restrooms and outside, through the gravel parking lot into the leafy suburbs of Tacoma. Shivering with ice-blooded fear, you walked swiftly without looking behind you, anticipating the squeal of tires, the blare of horns. No one came. Then again, why would they? Every year the church bled members faster than it sank into the damaged ground. You made it to the bus stop, then the train station, and then you were gone."

"Twenty-two years later, you twist into sleep every night with all the lamps switched on, and wake every morning in a room suspended by twenty-five stories of concrete and steel girders. As pale and colorless as your skin is, it is always with relief that you greet the cancer-bright sun pouring through curtainless windows. Surprise, as well: sleep reminds you of home, of church, of some subterranean chapel of your soul. Every night you fight against falling back down again. Every morning you arise, above ground and alive. Outside, a constant drone of machinery and metal surrounds Manhattan like an archangel's invincible shield: the night terrors of your childhood fade and you are safe for twelve hours more. Most of those hours, like today, are spent at the reception desk of the company you work for, encased in the comforting artificial hum of air conditioners, the electric clicks and purrs of the phone, the rip of the letter openers through tape and envelope flaps. You reach for a battered box with the word morgenstern scrawled in black marker on the side, and stab it open like an infected wound as you think about what you'll have for lunch."

"Bits of moldering paper spill onto your neat desk, flecked with stony grey grit that catches in your lashes and bites your eyes. Old photographs, memorandums, bulletin drafts and personal notes--six decades of the history of St. Mark's, a secret saga that no one driving past the pretty building and clipped lawns could ever have imagined or known. A faded Polaroid flips out onto your palm. Two ancient women in the sunlight church basement, naked, hairless, blind. The teeth of their lipless mouths have fused into monstrous smiles, the ribbed walls of calcium growing over their chins and down, joining their exposed ribs. The lower halves of their bodies have grown together, legs and hips joined in an Escher configuration of impossible curves doubling back into themselves, as if the women are birthing a colossal vertebra, barely contained beneath the radiant translucence of their porcelain skin. You turn the photo over. Two names, written in your dead mother's spindly cursive, ten years before you were born: Margo and Ruthie Johansson, church potluck, 1964. The first!"

"Some sticky birth plug of memory squeezes and pops out of your soul: all you've done to create this clean adult life bleeds away, leaving behind the young woman you used to be, more naked and alone than when you were first born. You push back from your desk, and the papers slither over the edge and down, whispering a language you never thought you'd hear again. Liese: say nothing about what's in this box to anyone, an unsigned note by your foot reads in neat print. Erika, your older sister, is the only one who knows where you are. Father passed last week. I need you. Come home."

"Ten hours later, engines rush you across a country gripped in autumn gold and brown. America undulates below, shimmying in the long shadows of mountains and clouds, as if the manmade layers of city and suburb are recoiling from the touch of the feral lands upon which they rest. You watch ice cubes rings melt in the plastic cup, and slip them one by one onto the tip of your tongue, sucking away every last drop of cheap white wine. Boozy, irrational daydreams set your heart galloping--visions of linoleum-lined underground classrooms crumbling inward, sucking you into the sunless grottos of the earth. As the plane crosses the ridge of the High Cascades, you see how the land has ossified under the thin skin of forest and soil. Mount Rainier is a clavicle crowned in frost and snow; all the bones tumble together as they descend in jagged foothills to the pelvic shores of the Puget Sound; and then they sink into the Pacific."

"Words bubble out of you like magma, tuneless snippets of a long-forgotten hymn. "Morningstar in darksome night, who the sad earth makest bright--" You whisper the phrase in an endless loop, staring out the window, watching the world rush by."

"Where the skeleton ends, you cannot see. But you know where it began. You know when."
Livia Llewellyn, Excerpt from Morgenstern der finstern Nacht
Written Exclusively For an Illustro Obscurum Collaboration 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


"He stood on a slightly raised platform, the shrouded one. Swarthy, slender, sinister, he was robed in scarlet silk. On a table beside him was a device similar to a child's magic lantern. Its diseased illumination cast obscene shapes that moved along the walls."

"Weakly, I raised my agonizing head. He stood before me-grim, austere, merciless. My hungry mouth kissed his chilly feet."

"Boldly, I clung to Nyarlathotep's garment and pulled myself to my feet. Swirling light and blackness played upon his regal visage. Fantastically, he smiled' and as he did so his face slipped, as though he wore some tight-fitting mask that had momentarily lost its hold. He lifted a hand and I saw upon his palm a living symbol. Tilting to it, I licked the pulsing insignia. It was sharp and ripped the tongue that touched it."
W.H. Pugmire, The Hands That Reek and Smoke
From a story provided exclusively for an Illustro Obscurum collaboration

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


"During the Hundred Years' War, when God and His saints slept, there were many towns cleared by plague and recruitment, amongst these the town of Chatouye, which lay in the dead land between France and Flanders. By the time of Guillaume Cornîche, foremost witch-finder of his age, Chatouye was well-known to be mainly occupied by women of all ages and some few men, mostly very old or very young, and that since their lands were fallow and had been burnt many times over, it was not immediately apparent how they managed to sustain themselves. Yet every army which had marched through the area during the previous four decades had somehow failed to loot, occupy or otherwise molest Chatouye, and the town itself remained sound, its occupants well-fed."

"When Cornîche made inquiries, he uncovered rumours that Chatouye was home to a notorious and remarkable compliment of witches, a coven of covens whose roots went back far further than most historical record, perhaps even before the Romans founded Lutece, which eventually became Paris."

"Chief amongst these at the time was a woman named Sépultrice Filette-du-Raum, a noted voulteuse or doll-maker, who claimed descent from fallen angels. Described as “seemingly young and fresh, small and well-made, with odd eyes of two different colours and an exceeedingly wicked smile,” she was of unknown age and origins, but was said to have settled in Chatouye sometime before the Great Death began. At her behest, the demoiselles of Chatouye met at the intersection of two local plague-pits, a graveyard crossroads, to distil a sure and certain poison from mushrooms bred out of rotting flesh which they then sold to outsiders, especially rich or nobly-born widows-to-be.

"During these sessions, the Red Girl of Chatouye—as she was sometimes called—would wear a cloak made from uncured hides and covered in needles she had used either to torment wax images until those they represented died, or kill unwanted babies she midwived by slipping them through the fontanelles of the children in question. She would also read from a heretical book called the Testament of Carnamagos, thus allying herself with both the Carnean mystery cult which sprang up under Emperor Elegabalus, its originators, and the notorious Red Sisterhood of Coptic Alexandria, who preserved it by guile into Christian times. Transcribed while in a trance in ink brewed from her own blood, this text allowed Filette-du-Raum to open the doors those cults had been designed to keep closed, calling up “Those Outside, Those Others, the Knockers and Intruders, who poison and degrade all they touch,” who the pre-Etruscan Goddess Carna, as demarcator of sacred spaces, had previously struggled to keep out, banished beyond “the walls around the world.” 

"After the Red Girl had been taken up, tortured and burned alive by Cornîche and his helpers, the town Chatouye was likewise cleansed with fire and salt: it became a grave folded inside two graves, a threefold plague-pit. Yet some survivors managed the flee nonetheless, and prospered: les Chatouyennes turned up again and again under different yet easily-decoded names in Belgium, Germany, England, the United States, Canada, even parts of Asia and Africa—became Chadwents, Chatwins, Shadwins, Shotwands, Schatzvendes, Schendewaerts, and so on. Everywhere they remained doll-makers, witches who formed matrilineal covens in rural areas from which to worship their evil angels and dead gods undisturbed, all-but-impossible to entirely root out. For the Red Girl's blood writes our fate, as their saying goes; we shall not entirely die from this world, so the covenant with our progenitor Raum Goetim states, not so long as one of us lives on to remember, and set the book of our power down afresh."

"As for Cornîche, his relatives also survived, becoming monster-hunters in their turn, often pursuing the same line of witchery he had uncovered. But he himself died after ill-advisedly taking the Testament into his library, possessed by a demonic impulse which led him to slaughter first his own wife and children, then himself, after finally burning the ill-fated tome. He who lived a witch-hunter was thus reckoned a warlock, his memory defamed and shunned, and the Red Girl had her revenge."
Gemma Files, The Red Girl Of Chatouye
Written Exclusively For an Illustro Obscurum Collaboration

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


… [inaudible]... Hunt was always drinking. Always drunk. Sometimes pills. Sometimes just Scotch. But the big man loved drinking Scotch so that was fine. He loved any kind of [inaudible]...

The night, the night in question, he wanted to talk about FUBELT. Things in South America were well you’ll find out about that at some point I’m sure. International machinations were always a source of  [garbled]…and for once, we’re not here to talk about politics. No...We’re here to talk about his eyes. That was the first night I saw it happen. Later, other things
happened. We can talk about later later, yes, later we can talk about everything else. Liddy, the ratfucks, the [redacted], and the [redacted] and…

[two minutes of silence]
Sorry. Sorry. My mind drifts, y’know. Like Haight Ashbury or something.

He never looked good, y’know, always stubbly in the evenings, and by then his skin was baggy. Big jowls. Ever wonder why he had such jowls? I know why. It was that night that his face slipped. Only time I saw it happen. It just slipped like... like it wasn’t his face at all, everything just moved a little bit off and I could see the cracks. I caught a glimpse of his true face. And it was… All I can say is his eyes were made of thousands of eyes. Eyes of thousands of eye.

I can tell you don’t understand, but just try, okay?! It’s important.
[audible rustling of clothes.]

Did I mention it? Fuck no. And he just talked and drank, like nothing was weird-don’t think he even noticed-And all those eyes, they were all watching me.
[garbled tape noise. Buzzing sounds. Conversation muffled.]

… Kissinger was there of course, yeah. He was always there. But it was weird. He didn’t ever turn to look back behind the desk at the big man. Like he knew what he’d see if he did. And then, just before they sent me away with my marching orders, it was Kissinger who winked at me.
From deposition unnamed White House Aide, serving 19691973.
Tape Five. Minutes 4861.
Discovered in the vaults under 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Philip Gelatt, Untitled
Written Exclusively For an Illustro Obscurum Collaboration

Monday, May 12, 2014


"A dog that is not a dog. A black dog. It haunts the roads in the south of Mexico. You can stumble upon it late at night, when the moon is dim in the sky. A black dog, but not a dog. The eyes are wrong and it’s too large and it’s too black. And when you look at it close you realize it’s a man with a dog’s head, hands splayed upon the dirt. But the hands are wrong too, because it has too many fingers and the joints are bent in impossible ways. In the morning you can see where it went by the strange tracks it leaves in the ground. 
 A dog that is not a dog."
Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Untitled
Written Exclusively For an Illustro Obscurum Collaboration


Hey everyone! This week is the second, and final (for now), week of Nyarlathotep collaborations with contemporary horror authors. There are some really amazing and utterly bizarre descriptions in this set! Here's a run down of the fantastic authors that contributed this week:

SILVIA-MORENO GARCIA: Silvia's short story collection This Strange Way Of Dying is an absolutely stunning combination of other wordly beauty and dark mythology (check out Bloodlines). Self described as "Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination" her work infuses Mexican folklore with modern characters and settings. Her fragment is one of the shortest but also one of the most striking! In a short paragraph she really managed to unnerve me!

PHILIP GELATT: Along with Tim and Ruth, Phil is one third of The Double Shadow podcast. After I had two guest spots on the podcast we met in real life at NecronomiCon 2013. Phil's a man of many hats and he wears all of them extremely well. Comic writer, screen writer, podcaster, director and all around good dude. Phil wrote the screenplay for the ultragrim and hyper realistic sci-fi downer Europa Report. It's an amazing movie and everyone should see it! Phil's fragment is the funniest by far, but still manages to retain a tinge of creepiness.

GEMMA FILES: I first encountered Gemma Files' work in Ellen Datlow's collection Lovecraft Unbound. Her story Marya Nox, told in the form of a transcripted interview is an eerie tale about an unholy temple and the disturbing things that happen therein. Her "fragment" is more of a short story and what a short story it is. She told me she has plans to fully flesh it out and I sincerely hope that happens because this is one of my favorites. It combines medieval witchcraft with the mythos and it does so superbly.

W.H. PUGMIRE: W.H. Pugmire has an entire collection of Nyarlathotep themed tales called The Strange Dark One. So when I contacted him, it was more because I was just asking this titan of Lovecraftian mythos weaving, if the story I chose was adequate. And it is my favorite from that collection. But really, any of Pugmire's Sesqua Valley tales are dripping in dreamlike magic and malevolent consequences and are essential reading for any one interested in contemporary Yogsothery.

LIVIA LLEWELLYN: When I first thought up this weird collaboration idea, I actually had Livia Llewellyn in mind. Her short story collection Engines Of Desire is a must read. The worlds she creates jump to life with vivid descriptions that still leave a lot of tantalizing gaps for the reader to fill in on their own. Her "fragment" is more of a short story and one of the more disturbing entries. I actually grossed myself out drawing this one.

Again, I'm extremely honored that any and all of these authors took the time to answer emails, tolerate my pestering and write a fragment or give me permission to use one of their stories. Thank you so much. I can't imagine this is the last of this side project. I've already got something more from David Conyers so be warned...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Just a few quick updates.

1-Tomorrow, May 7th 11am EST, I'll be posting new prints in my etsy shop. They'll include a reprint of the Necronun print, and gold and silver versions of this Rotting Baphomet piece.

2-Next week will be the second and last (for now) week of Nyarlathotep collaborations, including Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Philip Gelatt, Gemma Files, W.H.Pugmire and Livia Llewellyn! Expect a more detailed post about that this coming Friday.

 Illustration by The joey Zone

3-Finally, I have some pretty big news. I've been in talks with Neils Hobbs (the coordinator of NecronomiCon) and it looks like I'll be showing some work at 2015's Con. And by some work, I mean ALL my work. By August 2015 I expect to be finished with this part of my Illustro Obscurum project, and I'll be showing EVERY SINGLE PIECE I'VE DONE FOR THIS BLOG. That's over 300 illustrations! There are a few other kinks to work out but that's further down the road.

Friday, May 2, 2014


"His companion, on the other hand, was sober, well-dressed, slender, and mustached. His dark hair had been parted precisely down the middle; 
indeed, everything about him was precise."

"Question forgotten, Marjorie gaped, heart pounding, to see Zupan standing atop a small pyramid that had not been on stage a moment before, dressed in the robe and headdress she’d thought she’d seen at the beginning of his act. The headdress was Egyptian, of the nemes-style made famous by Tutankhamun, except that Zupan’s looked to be of no real substance, comprised instead entirely of chryselephantine electricity. As were his robes, Marjorie realized, when as he began to descend the pyramid one bolt of crackling energy moved strangely, momentarily revealing a flash of flesh that left her blushing. She kept her eyes on his face after that. He was naked under the garment—
if garment it was."
Molly Tanzer, Mysterium Tremendum
From a story provided exclusively for an Illustro Obscurum collaboration

Thursday, May 1, 2014



"The office was gone, replaced by a vast, dark plane.  Both the man in the shadows and the old man had remained, but behind each, an enormous black shape loomed.  The man in the shadows stood at the foot of a monument that would have put the Statue of Liberty to shame.  Struck from obsidian polished to trap what light there was within its acres of skin, the statue was of a man wearing a giant, gold mask whose design suggested the burial mask of an ancient pharaoh."

"The great, golden head of the statue was moving, tilting its blank face downwards.  At first, I thought the structure was breaking apart, but the head remained attached as its titan eyes rolled in their sockets.  I could feel its gaze churning across the plane in my direction.  It crashed over me like a wall of water."
John Langan, Irezumi
From a soon-to-be-published story provided 
exclusively for an Illustro Obscurum collaboration