About the Society

So many authors have left so much work unfinished, stories buried with their bones. Luckily, some of them left behind records of their planned works, and I’m going to try our hand at reviving them. Our first, and probably longest, supplier of parts is Howard Phillips Lovecraft. We’ll be consulting a list of 221 story ideas that Mr. Lovecraft left behind. Once a week, we’ll either post research on the story or the finished story itself.

If you’d like to support the Society, receive more stories or research, or are feeling generous, please check out our Patreon here.

The List: http://www.commonplacebooks.com/list-lovecraft

Six Nine Twelve

Clockface

This Week’s Prompt: 12. Happenings in interval between preliminary sound and striking of clock—ending— “it was the tones of the clock striking three”.

The Research:Tick Tock Goes the Clock

The sun has started setting. Early summer sunlight slices through the glass. The clock ,a great red painted shape in the sun-room ticks on. A woman sits staring at it,in a dilapted couch. It hasn’t stopped, not in centuries since it was made. Its hour hands have moved silently compared to the statcco beats of the seconds. Tick tick tick tick, no booming looming bells beat beneath the surface of its face. Her family got the clock, back when the house was a castle. Back when the town was free of fog. Back, according to the clock, three hours past.

The man, strange and hunched over, had come to them. He had been brief, with a high clicking voice. He had promised to show them many secret things. She had sat there, listening as a young girl, as he spoke to her grandfather. Then, when she grew taller and older, he returned. Returned at three, after her grandfather rode into the woods. Returned at three, to ask something of her father. In that clicking, clatering, screeching voice.

Nine O’Clock

The stars were out now. Distant Alderbaan shown overhead, reflected neatly in the pale face of the clock. A number of small cherubs beautifully molded into the pearly weight face. They were smiling, but the woman knew them. They weren’t smiling out of good will.

They attended the family, when that man left. The clock clicked to their hour for decades, and while the hour hand rested there, while the heart beat away. And then they came forth, fat spiteful things. They grinned and showed cracked teeth. They’re gears looked rusted, the wings were certainly shaped like dove wings. But they fluttered up in down in sets of four, like a flies.

The woman knew them well. And the strange noises, the mree mree, they made. They brought fine wine, wonderful clothes, and chased off the wild dogs and snapping jaws of the jabberwocks. Tick Tock, the clock rattled on. Yes, the cherubs were delightful in the house, both old and new. And in distant Hali they danced and hunted rats. And scurried in a great rob of yellow, before the man came.

Twelve O’Clock

The woman had barely eaten. She had only had bread, like her sisters and father before her. The ringing of the midnight hour startled her, slightly. It hadn’t made that loud, twelve striking in ages. When she was little, grandfather left. When she was younger, but not much, her father rode away. Now, though, she stayed. There was no reason to leave.

The clocking, hulking, ghastly thing could not ask much of her. All she had was this distant house, this red-white clock, some wheat in the cupboard, and a bottle of wine. In a black dress, she waited on the couch, the moon perfectly covering the face. As the moon drifted past, she saw the clock face pulled along with it.

It would strike three. And then, then it would come crawling out, looking to make its mark. For tribute yearly owed. But there was nothing left to give. The woman steeled herself, as the ticking went on. No doubt it would come.

No doubt the gears would turn. The hands would move, and tick tick tick would go the moments, as she waited. She could run, but it would come. She could read, but that might disturb her paitence. She might then become aware of her situation. And that would simply make it all the more painful.

The Clock Struck Three

—-

Well, my fellows, that is what I managed to assemble. I couldn’t quite get the last bit to stick, and if I ever get to revising these, it will be of the highest priority. How about you? What happened when your clock struck three?

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The Lord Dunsany, Time, and Hegel

Lord Dunsany

This Week’s Prompt:6. In Ld Dunsany’s “Idle Days on the Yann.” The inhabitants of the antient Astahan, on the Yann, do all things according to antient ceremony. Nothing new is found. “Here we have fetter’d and manacled Time, who wou’d otherwise slay the Gods.”

The Resulting Story: Eternity Falls

Lord Dunsany is someone people should be more familiar with. Edward Pluckett was, and is, one of the most influential writers in the fantastic, gifting the world with The King of Elfand’s Daugher, and The Gods of Pegana . Lord Dunsany has touched minds as scattered as Mr. Lovecraft, who has provided todays prompt, as well as the illustrious J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Guillermo Del Toro, Robert E. Howard, Arthur C. Clark, Borges, and many more. He has much to recommend, building a world as spanning as Middle Earth and the Dreamlands, with influences the world over. If you wish to write fantasy, he is key to read.

His story in this case, the Idles of Yann, touch on another author however. One…less fantastic by a measure but more dull to be sure. This will be brief, fear not. I won’t subject you to the tyranny of historical philosophy for long. Hegel argued that history, and thus time, only occurs when people act as individuals and great men arise. It is by this method that Yann has ‘slain’ time. For if everything is done the same way, at the same moment, does a day really end? It becomes cyclical, the day never passing. We can of course in modern ages observe the decay around us. And people will pass.

But if they are replaced by those who act in the same ritual matter, and assumes their ritual identiy, are they dead? How can they be? Sure, we may bluster about the soul, but if from womb to grave all actions are planned and purposed, if every person and every role is the same without err and change stomped out of the cycle, then time surely must die. Because what can we call time, if not the measure of changes?

Astahahn’s role in the Idles of Yann is a sort of divine life support. By dreaming and ritually remembering every god that has been, Yann keeps them safe from “Time, who would otherwise slay the gods.” And if the Gods die, dreams shall die too. What are we to do with this though? Time and change are fundamental to the plot of a story. At the core of narrative is ‘Things happen.” Astahahn is a mere stop on a travel log down the river Yann, with meditations on Gods and imagination and the like. How do we build a story out of manacled time?

Well, two routes seem most apparent to myself. The first is the manacling of time, the inception of the eternity of this city (one wonders if the beginning is repeated without end). This would be a strange piece, since the ending would be the removal of endings, the middle repeating forever and ever. The alternative, however, is more nefarious. The end of the chains, the cycle breaking in the city that has bound time.

I find the second choice more appealing. A story about how this bubble of eternity is overpowered, how Time and Entropy and the Powers Invisible storm through its walls like the Greeks at Troy. It is akin to how utopia can only exist at its beginning or end (though I will note that there is no reason to assign to Astahahn some sort of perfected existence; it seems to be a bleak place of slumber at best). And what may come, when chance triumphs fate and the might of eternity must give to deaths swing, who is to say? In Western lore, the one to try such before was bound by heavy chains.

What schemes do you have in mind against such a power? Will rebellion come from within or invasion from without?