Thursday, December 31, 2015

DIVER-IMITATING FISH-LIFE

DIVER-IMITATING FISH-LIFE
"Well, I swam and I swam and I swam. You know how a chase takes you, and somehow being unable to overtake a mere girl made it worse. But I was gaining, age and all, until just as I got close enough to sense something was wrong, she turned sidewise above two automobile tires-and I saw it wasn't a girl at all"


"I had been following a goddamned great fish-a fish with a bright blue-and-orange band around its belly, and a thin white body ending in a black flipperlike tail. Even its head and nape were black, like her hair and mask. It had a repulsive catfishlike mouth, with barbels."


"The thing goggled at me and then swam awkwardly away, just as the light went worse yet. But there was enough for me to see that it was no normal fish, either, but a queer archaic thing that looked more tacked together than grown. This I can't swear to, because I was looking elsewhere by then, but it was my strong impression that as it went out of my line of sight its whole tail broke off." 
James Tiptree Jr., Beyond the Dead Reef



 

Friday, December 25, 2015

FACELESS GHOST


FACELESS GHOST
"The moonlight shone on his face, and that face was just a slab of smooth yellowish flesh extending from ear to ear, empty as the oval of an egg without eyes or nose or mouth. From the upper edge of the shawl where it crossed the forehead there depended a few wisps of grey hair."
E.F. Benson, The Step


Thursday, December 24, 2015

GHOST MONKEY

GHOST MONKEY
"By it stood the alabaster vases containing the entrails of the dead, and at each corner of the sepulchre there were carved out of the sandstone rock, forming, as it were, pillars to support the roof, thick-set images of squatting apes."

"A-pen-ara curses any who desecrates or meddles with her bones, and should anyone do so, the guardians of her sepulchre will see to him, and he shall die childless and in panic and agony; also the guardians of her seulchre will tear the hair from his head and scoop his eyes from their sockets, and pluck the thumb from his right hand, as a man plucks the young blade of corn from its sheath."

"Very pretty little attentions,' he said. 'And who are the guardians of this sweet young lady's sepulchre? Those four great apes carved at the corners?"

"Morris's servant had only had the briefest sight of it, and his description of it at the inquest did not tally with that of any known simian type."
E.F. Benson, Monkeys


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WERECAT

 WERECAT
"The form of it, naked, but for a loin-cloth, was that of a man, the head seemed now human, now to be that of some monstrous cat."
E.F. Benson, Bagnell Terrace

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ELEMENTAL

ELEMENTAL
"It waved as if it had been the head and forepart of some huge snake rearing itself, but it instantly disappeared, and my glimpse had been so momentary that I could not trust my impression."

'"What on earth was it?" he said. "It looked like some enormous slug standing up. Did you see it?"'
E.F. Benson, And No Bird Sings

'“I don’t know, as I told you, what the Thing is. But if you ask me what my conjecture is, it is that the Thing is an Elemental.”'

" It was like the shadow of some enormous slug, legless and fat, some two feet high by about four feet long. Only at one end of it was a head shaped like the head of a seal, with open mouth and panting tongue."

"The Thing, waving its head, came closer and closer to him, and reached out towards his throat."

"Only the collar of the medium was crumpled and torn, and on his throat were two scratches that bled."
E.F. Benson, The Thing In the Hall 

 

Monday, December 21, 2015

CANCER INGLISENSIS

CANCER INGLISENSIS
"For it was covered with great caterpillars, a foot or more in length, which crawled over it. They were faintly luminous, and it was the light from them that showed me the room. Instead of the sucker-feet of ordinary caterpillars they had rows of pincers like crabs, and they moved by grasping what they lay on with their pincers, and then sliding their bodies forward. In colour these dreadful insects were yellowish-grey, and they were covered with irregular lumps and swellings. There must have been hundreds of them, for they formed a sort of writhing, crawling pyramid on the bed. Occasionally one fell off on to the floor, with a soft fleshy thud, and though the floor was of hard concrete, it yielded to the pincerfeet as if it had been putty, and, crawling back, the caterpillar would mount on to the bed again, to rejoin its fearful companions. They appeared to have no faces, so to speak, but at one end of them there was a mouth that opened sideways in respiration."

'“It has got funny feet, too,” he said. “They are like crabs’ pincers. What’s the Latin for crab?”

“Oh, yes, Cancer. So in case it is unique, let’s christen it: ‘Cancer Inglisensis.’”
E.F. Benson, Caterpillars

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas E.F. Benson!


This coming week is Christmas, and to celebrate I'll be posting a monster a day (including Christmas day) based on the works of E.F. Benson.

Benson was the author of mainly satire and romance novels. However, we're concerned with his short horror stories. They run the gamut from eerie chillers, comical farces and even truly Weird. His most popular horror story was The Bus-Conductor which was adapted for the British film Dead Of Night and also as a Twilight Zone episode. A repeated phrase "Room for one more" was even the basis for an urban legend and worked it's way into Oingo Boingo's song Dead Man's Party!

Lovecraft had high praise for Benson. In his book Supernatural Horror In Literature, he praised the Machen-influenced story The Man Who Went Too Far.

You may ask, why Christmas? What's the connection. Well Benson was not only a member of The Chitchat Society with M.R. James (where he witnessed him read his first two stories) and the Twice A Fortnight Group with him but the two were friends for over 50 years. So, seeing how James' ghost stories are so well loved on Christmas, I thought it only fitting to include his long time friend.

Above, I've included a picture of the Twice A Fortnight Group which included M.R. James, E.F. Benson and his brother R.H. Benson. Not only them but also J.K. Stephen who is a Jack the Ripper suspect (albeit a rather dubious one)! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

PLAYER FROM BEYOND THE VOID

 PLAYER FROM BEYOND THE VOID
 "I saw Zann start as from the hint of a horrible shock. Unmistakably he was looking at the curtained window and listening shudderingly. Then I half fancied I heard a sound myself; though it was not a horrible sound, but rather an exquisitely low and infinitely distant musical note, suggesting a player in one of the neighbouring houses, or in some abode beyond the lofty wall over which I had never been able to look."

"But I did not pursue this course for more than a moment; for when the dumb musician recognised the whistled air his face grew suddenly distorted with an expression wholly beyond analysis, and his long, cold, bony right hand reached out to stop my mouth and silence the crude imitation. As he did this he further demonstrated his eccentricity by casting a startled glance toward the lone curtained window, as if fearful of some intruder—a glance doubly absurd, since the garret stood high and inaccessible above all the adjacent roofs, this window being the only point on the steep street, as the concierge had told me, from which one could see over the wall at the summit."

"Yet when I looked from that highest of all gable windows, looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no city spread below, and no friendly lights gleaming from remembered streets, but only the blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no semblance to anything on earth. And as I stood there looking in terror, the wind blew out both the candles in that ancient peaked garret, leaving me in savage and impenetrable darkness with chaos and pandemonium before me, and the daemon madness of that night-baying
viol behind me."
H.P. Lovecraft, The Music Of Erich Zann


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

FALSE FRIENDS

FALSE FRIENDS
"... suppose there are ... things ... that live in people places.  Cities.  Houses.  These things could imitate -- well, other kinds of things you find in people places ...

"Maybe they're a different kind of life-form.  Maybe they get their nourishment out of the elements in the air.  You know what safety pins are -- these other kinds of them?... the safety pins are the pupa-forms and then they ... hatch.  Into the larval-forms.  Which look just like coat hangers.  They feel like them, even, but they're not ..."
"All those bicycles the cops find, and they hold them waiting for owners to show up, and then we buy them at the sale because no owners show up because there aren't any, and the same with the ones the kids are always trying to sell us, and they say they just found them, and they really did because they were never made in a factory.  They grow.  You smash them and throw them away, they regenerate ..."

""You got to get the picture. I'm not talking about real pins or hangers. I got a name for the others-'false friens,' I call them. In high school French, we had to watch out for French words that looked like English words, but really were different. 'Faux amis,' they called them. False friends. Psuedo pins."

"By the way ... what's become of the French racer, the red one, used to be here?"

"Oscar's face twitched.  Then it grew bland and innnocent and he leaned over and nudged his customer.  "Oh, that one.  Old Frenchy?  Why, I put him out to stud!"

"And they laughed and they laughed, and after they told a few more stories they concluded the sale, and they had a few beers and they laughed some more.  And then they said what a shame it was about poor Ferd, poor old Ferd, who had been found in his own closet with an unravled coat hanger coiled tightly around his neck."
Avram Davidson, Or All the Seas With Oysters

Thursday, December 10, 2015

SCYLLA


SCYLLA
"Now Scylla's necks menace his decks 
Charybdis threats his ships 
Six men are lost-O! dreadful cost 
But he through danger slips"
H.P. Lovecraft, The Poem Of Ulysses

"Scylla, whose name is derived from skulle, meaning "bitch", is portrayed variously as a beautiful female from the waist up but from the waist down had the heads of six ferocious dogs sprouting from her above twelve dogs' legs' or as an amorphous, tentacled mass with as many as six heads each with three sets of teeth and twelve sets of legs and feet."

"During the Middle Ages, Scylla was often portrayed in bestiaries as a marine monster, described as having the tail of a dolphin on the body of a wolf and from the waist up a young woman."
Carol Rose, Giants, Monsters and Dragons  

"Homer describes Skylla as a creature with twelve dangling feet, six long necks and grisly heads lined with a triple row of sharp teeth." 

"Skylla is probably derived from the imagery of words associated with her name : namely, "hermit-crab" (Greek skyllaros), "dog" and "dog-shark" (skylax), and "to rend" (skyll├┤). In classical art she was depicted as a fish-tailed sea-goddess"
Aaron J. Atsma, The Theoi Project: Greek Mythology

"She was once a beautiful maiden and was changed into a snaky monster by Circe. She dwelt in a cave high up on the cliff, from whence she was accustomed to thrust forth her long necks, and in each of her mouths seize one of the crew of every 
vessel passing within reach."
Thomas Bullfinch, Bullfinch's Mythology 



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

THE SHADOW IN THE SHED

THE SHADOW IN THE SHED
"And this Shadow, or whatever it was, was a most peculiar and unusual thing. It seemed circular in shape, tubelike; about five feet through, as near as they could tell, it extended from the dirt floor of The Shed clear to the roof, and up beyond the rafters inside it was too dim to see clearly."

"The thing was of a nondescript color, mostly gray."

"He began poking at two shiny objects, working them across the close-packed dirt floor, ignoring the Shadow, which was rippling and twisting as though annoyed by the intrusion."


"Suddenly they stopped short, for the Shadow now seemed subtly different. More colorful, more solid, and a movement to it that was sort of....an aliveness!"   

The strange and evil mistiness was curling and entwining itself all about and around the cow. Thicker and thicker grew the folds of Shadow-substance."

"The colors of the thing were more pronounced, now. Flaming,  angry reds, flashing blues, sickly greens and yellows."
E. Everett Evans, The Shed 
Read Scott's blog-post about this story here.

MINISTER OF THE MONOLITHS (NYARLATHOTEP)

MINISTER OF THE MONOLITHS (NYARLATHOTEP)
"The monoliths shook in the soil like the prongs of a tuning fork. As they vibrated they began to sway back and forth, each swing wider than the last until the dirt spewed up at the base of each in a small explosion. It was the legs. Each one had four crustacean-like legs covered in rough shell armor and pointed at the end. Then, as they lifted themselves out of the loam the stone in the center of each cracked revealing a glowing red eye. "

"But the real horror was the center column. The same as the other but larger and engraved with indecipherable glyphs. It loomed over Nick and Denise as the sat in shocked horror. Their mouths agape as their brains tried to catch up with what their eyes were seeing. This was supposed to be a fun trip to see a local oddity. They never would have believed that the legends of living stones were true. Then the largest one opened it's eye. Different than the rest, it was tri-lobed, orange, and horrible." 


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

THE SLIME

THE SLIME
"It was a great gray-black hood of horror moving over the floor of the sea. It slid through the soft ooze like a monstrous mantle of slime obscenely animated with questing life. It was by turns viscid and fluid. At times it flattened out and flowed through the carpet of mud like an inky pool; occasionally it paused, seeming to shrink in upon itself, and reared up out of the ooze until it resembled an irregular cone or a gigantic hood. Although it possessed no eyes, it had a marvelously developed sense of touch, and it possessed a sensitivity to minute vibrations which was almost akin to telepathy. It was plastic, essentially shapeless. It could shoot out long tentacles, until it bore a resemblance to a nightmare squid or a huge starfish; it could retract itself into a round flattened disk, or squeeze into an irregular hunched shape so that it looked like a black boulder sunk on the bottom of the sea."
Joseph Payne Brennan, Slime 
Read Scott's blog-post about this story here.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

STORIES FROM THE BORDERLAND

It's no secret that I love Scott Nicolay's work. I was impressed by his fantastic debut collection Ana Kai Tangata to the point that I illustrated a creature from his story Soft Frogs. Scott then contacted me to illustrate the cover and interiors for his Dim Shores released novella "after".

Well, Scott and I are working together again. This time we're teaming up on a project we've dubbed Stories From the Borderland. Scott will pick a weird tale that's been overlooked, forgotten or never received the attention it deserved in the first place, he'll write a blog post about why it's important, and then I'll illustrate the "creature" featured in each story. Scott's an author so he tells it better:

"Stories From the Borderland is a collaborative project between artist Michael Bukowski and myself. Beginning Dec. 2, 2015 and continuing each Wednesday for five weeks (skipping Christmas week when Michael has his own special plans), we will simultaneously showcase on our respective blogs one great Weird story that for varying reasons lacks the currency it deserves. I will post a short essay here about each story, while Michael will illustrate some…creature appearing in the story on his blog: http://yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com/"
Tomorow's our first post! Get excited!