HP Lovecraft never made his living by writing. For one, he simply didn’t write enough. And for two, he had issues with writing for money. Consequently, a number of his stories were published in essentially fanzines, the amateur press, for which he didn’t get paid.
For all of his adult life Lovecraft lived in, as he called it, “genteel poverty”. Towards the end of his life, however, he offered his services to hopeful author in order to make a few bucks. He would edit other writer’s stories, or ghostwrite stories for them.
“The Mound” was a story that Lovecraft wrote for Zealia Bishop from an idea she gave him. It is most assuredly not one of his better efforts, but it certainly doesn’t qualify as trash either.
I like how Lovecraft turned Bishop’s rather ho-hum ghost story idea into a Cthulhu Mythos tale. And by setting the story in a subterranean world he really hooked me, because I’m a sucker for subterranean world stories.
Lovecraft’s story became the inspiration for the second Pierce Mostyn Paranormal Investigation: Stairway to Hell, which will hit the virtual bookstores in late February.
In preparation for Stairway to Hell’s launch, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek.
Pierce Mostyn and his team are investigating an ancient tunnel, with strangely grotesque carvings and mysterious hieroglyphs. And then… Well, read on!
Jones started to speak and Mostyn held his hand up to silence him. After a moment, he asked, “You hear that?”
“Yeah, it sounds like the slapping of bare feet on stone.”
“I think company’s coming. C’mon!”
Mostyn ran back to the chamber, Jones following. He burst into the room. “Everyone, back into the tunnel! Company’s coming!”
In a mad scramble, soldiers and scientists rushed back the way they’d come. Mostyn called out, “Gibson, Tanner, Michelson, Ellis, you have the firepower. You’ll be in the mouth of the tunnel. Jones and I will be behind you. Pettigrew and Grundseth, you’re the rear guard. Listen up! If they attack and we can’t hold them, the rest of you retreat. Get the hell out of here and back to the surface. Tell Obermaier to seal the stairway. Now get down, everyone!”
The team was in position in the tunnel and waited for whoever it was that was coming. They didn’t have long to wait. Shambling into the chamber was a horde of beings, for human would be too generous a term for them.
Perhaps they’d once been human, but no human has two heads, or three legs, or five arms, or seven eyes. And no human has no head or the body of a four-legged animal. What was also apparent, was that they were ready for combat. In their hands were an array of spears, bows and arrows, swords, and maces.
Slezak screamed and panicked, thrashing about in an attempt to flee. It took both Zink and Baker to get her under control.
Mostyn, in a quiet voice said, “Tanner, get ready. Those, I’m guessing, are y’m-bhi. Think of them as being like zombies.”
“Got it, sir,” Tanner answered, and got his flamethrower ready.
To the group of beings in the chamber, Mostyn called out, “We mean no harm. I would like to speak to your leader.”
There was no initial response, then after a few moments up came a bow with an arrow nocked to the string. Mostyn yelled, “Tanner, now!”
There was a click and then a stream of fire shot out of the barrel of the flamethrower, cutting through the zombie-like creatures, and hitting the opposite wall. PFC Tanner swung the barrel and, in the ten seconds that the igniter cartridge was burning, he’d reduced the living dead to a pile of smoking and charred flesh. He emptied the burnt out cartridge and put in a fresh one.
In a matter of moments, another hoard of the zombie-like creatures poured into the chamber and Tanner’s flamethrower spewed out another wall of fire that reduced the ambulatory dead to a pile of smoldering flesh and bones.
“How many more of those things are there?” Corporal Ellis muttered.
Tanner looked back. “I don’t know, Corporal, but I’m almost out of fuel.”
“The spirits! The spirits!” Beames yelled.
“Fire, Gibson! Fire!” Mostyn ordered.
“Where? I don’t see anything.” Gibson’s voice was shaking.
“Arc it!” Mostyn yelled.
She flipped the switch, the sonic disruptor powered up, and she pulled the trigger as fast as she could, swinging the big weapon in an arc across the chamber.
“Beames! Did she get them?” Mostyn asked.
“They’re gone,” Beames replied.
“Okay, people, let’s get out of here,” Mostyn commanded. “Back the way we came. And double-time it.”
Thirteen people took off running back up the corridor. Suddenly Private First Class Pettigrew screamed, “They’re here!” And both she and PFC Grundseth opened fire.
Mostyn pushed his way to what was now the front of the column. Seven bodies lay in the tunnel.
“They just appeared out of nowhere,” Grundseth said.
Mostyn heard behind him the whine of the sonic disruptor and the crack of a pistol. In front of him a half-dozen figures materialized and in a second they were cut down by Pettigrew and Grundseth.
From the back of the column, came the whoosh of the flamethrower and then the whine of the disruptor.
More figures materialized in front of the column and they were quickly cut down by Pettigrew and Grundseth.
“Come on! Let’s move it!” Mostyn yelled, and took off at a run up the tunnel with Pettigrew, Grundseth, and the rest of his team following.
Pistol and rifle fire came from behind and up ahead a large group suddenly materialized. Pettigrew and Grundseth emptied their magazines and still more people materialized in front of Mostyn’s team, blocking their retreat.
Ellis shouted, “The flamethrower’s empty, there’s no more charge for the disruptor, and we have ghosts up our ass. Dozens of them!”
Mostyn looked back and saw the partially de-materialized beings. They were clearly visible, but there was a filmy translucent quality about them. He turned around and saw the very large group of very physical men in front of him and then they were yelling and screaming as they charged.
Grundseth and Pettigrew got their rifles reloaded, but not before the attackers were on them and they were quickly overpowered. Mostyn threw a punch and caught one of the attackers before he could use his club. He put his head down and barreled into a man, who went down. Mostyn was on top of him and grabbed his club, using it to block a slash from a sword.
Suddenly there was only Mostyn, with half a dozen sword points mere inches from his chest.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into the next Pierce Mostyn adventure. Comments are always welcome! And until next time, happy reading!Share This!