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last one has been read.” – CL Stegall, author of The Weight Of Night “Well, let's just say, Steele's got a way with language, with drawing the reader into his ‘post -mythic darkness’ that is irresistible.” – John Claude Smith, author of The Shadow Over Las Vegas “A genre bending experience… horrifically beautiful.” – Saranna DeWylde, author of How To Lose A Demon In 10 Days “Story is paramount… he uses the shocking, distasteful and bizarre as an artist uses colors on a palette.” – Jack McCallum, author of Made In The USA “This bizarre, action-packed tale freaked me out and grossed me out, which is precisely what Steele is aiming for.” – Court Ellyn, author of Mists Of Blackfen Bog “(a) little piece of hell… a true ear for real dialogue.” – Matthew Leverton, author of Bending The Darkness “Get yourself a copy… then come back and thank me.” – 3.5 star review from Wicked Lil Pixie.com on Petty Like A God “An interesting mixture of mythology and religion… (a) casual and conversational writing style enhances the story, creating an exciting fast read that stays with long after you turn the last page.” – 4 star review from Smexybooks.com on Petty Like A God “Ripe with violent beauty and bloody delight, charming decadence and poetic justice. (His) writing style is glorious, sprinkled with delectably darkish humor, it is rich, layered, textured, and sure to give you bouts of synesthesy. [sic]” – 5 star review from L. E. Olteano on Far House, Deep House
Petty Like A God In Bleed Country
Fragments Of Ruin Further Than Fate
A Complicated Divine These Brewing Abominations The Stitching Far House, Deep House Preeminent Hollows
A Dark Red Press presentation Wetter by Brian Fatah Steele Copyright ©2011 by Brian Fatah Steele Original cover artwork by Brian Fatah Steele © 2011 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be altered in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. http://brianfatahsteele.com Find and read more at http://www.darkredpress.com
for my neighbors, Jeff and Annie Keys “Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.” - H.P. Lovecraft
That summer began like so many previous, the heat rising from the east and casting out all the morning dew. The spring that year had been a wet one, the rains more frequent and heavy than the region had seen in many years, and the ground remained soft underneath feet even as temperatures rose in those later months. Yet while the torrential downpours of the past season did not return, a humidity was abundant in the air that made the citizens of New Leeds feel as if they were swimming through the afternoon atmosphere. Hollis found the sticking dampness uncomfortable, even more so for the work he had put off from last year and had unfortunately found a growing necessity for in this new one. The house, while new to him, was quite old and badly in need of repairs. He had tinkered and fiddled with the interior all through the colder times at his leisure, finally achieving most of his set goals. However both the basement and the house’s exterior now awaited his efforts, and only the saddest excuses for procrastination could stop him any longer. There was no particular reason why he didn’t wish to begin repairs to his home’s exterior, other than he wasn’t entirely sure where to begin. The sheer magnitude of the project threatened to overwhelm him at times when he considered it, instead often finding himself content to shift his piles of bricks back and forth or occasionally tend to the
backyard flower garden. At some point the gate would have to be replaced, the roses properly treated and the bricks set in a style that would lead from the road to the gabled porch. All of this, plus the drafty windows, leaky roof, crumbling steps and faded paint. As for the basement, it was a case that spoke more about quality than quantity. Only a few stray items from the long-forgotten prior tenets needed hauled away, along with some minor electrical work and plumbing. No, here in the basement Hollis was bombarded with the seasonal temperatures tenfold, the heat an unbearable inferno in the summer while it remained some dreaded arctic wasteland in the winter. He had missed his opportunity to forego extremes and now as May rolled into June, the basement had become a boiling ocean. Hollis worked from home, the computer his main tool. Since he couldn’t very well go about pounding and drilling in the darkness, for fear of awakening his neighbors with the noise or the excessive lights, he retreated to his office most nights. There Hollis found some meager cheer with his words as his music played, losing himself to the writing as his bolder cat wove its way between his feet. Frequently he would attend to his tales far longer than he would have planned, not crawling to his slumber until the first rays of sunlight began to illuminate their way through his heavy
bedroom curtains. In turn, he would not awake until a large portion of the day was gone, the sun lounging bloated in its glaring position directly above his home. One day, Hollis awoke to find the light of his room darker than usual and groaned at the thought of more hours wasted than usual. A glance at the clock told him it was his normal time to rise, but the dim and grey-diffused walls gave him pause. Once out from his cover, he was astounded to find a slight chill to the room. Peering out the curtain, Hollis discovered a virtual deluge, the heavens torn open to allow the blackest storm clouds their rain. Considering this a boon, he quickly dressed and saw to his coffee. While the rich French Roast brewed, he fed his two impatient cats then went about a variety of morning routines. The daily trivialities dispensed with and fortified with a large mug, Hollis made his way into the basement. While the oppressive warmth was not apparent on this day, the dank confines of the stone walls seeped with moisture. There was an odor to the underground space that Hollis had not noticed before, something both musty yet cloying. There was a hidden sweetness to it and it lingered in his mouth, meaty and foul, and he found himself spitting into the ancient, rusting drain to remove it. Attempting to put it out of his mind, he toiled away for hours as he moved the dozen empty paint cans scattered in the corner, the jagged set of bed springs, the oddly-shaped bird cage and
other myriad items of suburban debris out to his back porch. At one point as he neared the small cubby once used to hold coal, the putrid stench wavered stronger than before. glanced inside at the decades-old saturated bits He of
blackened fuel, the broken sticks used as kindling and the wisps of ancient garbage all covered in cobwebs. Cramming a plank of warped cedar against the narrow, rotting orifice, he stepped away hacking the taste from his throat. Sitting in a lawn chair on the back porch, Hollis drank the cooled dredges of his coffee and smoked a cigarette, trying to banish the memory of the abhorrent flavor. Examining the mounds of junk he had accumulated, he punched a number into his cell phone and talked briefly to an acquaintance who would be able to transport it all away for a small fee. for the night. While searching the internet for a particular piece of information needed for his next bout of fiction, Hollis typed his way to a site that provided what he had found to be acute weather reporting for his area. He found the next four days were to be as dreary and flooded as the day he had just worked through, but determined this to be positive news. He had accomplished his goals on the very onset of the storm, and could hardly be expected to tackle outdoor maintenance in such conditions. Hollis fell to bed that night A major task completed and that weight lifted from the back of his mind, he retired back to his office
content that he would be able to spend the next few days dedicated to his writing. And that night, things grew wetter. The sky, now that strange deeper black that obscures our celestial cradle and cloaks us from the solace of stars, undulated and swirled with primal forces. Sealed away from those shining, burning icons that humanity so love to romanticize, waters caught from elsewhere fell to New Leeds and washed it clean of secrets. Indeed, instead of a sparkling purity one might find after a bathing, all the hidden filth of the town found license to creep its way further unobscured. And so the rain drenched homes and streets, soaking into the dirt to make pacts with all those things long forgotten. Hollis woke up coughing. Rolling over, he rubbed at his eyes and took in the clock that spoke of a time not long after he had collapsed. Thinking to fall back asleep, he realized the abysmal stench from the basement had drifted all the way to the second floor. Cursing, he reached to the small reading lamp that sat on an end table and blinked in the sudden brightness. Turning back to eject his usual feline companion from a nearby pillow, Hollis issued a sound of utter disgust at what he saw lying only inches from his face. A single, twitching pale maggot arched its back on the blue pillow case, its mindless and sightless head seeking some giving matter to burrow its way into. No more than
half an inch long, it was thick and bulging as if recently fed, the segmented ridges of its body pushing it along. content and gorged. Scrambling back from the pillow, Hollis tried desperately not to retch. He fumbled in his small trashcan for a piece of paper to grasp the tiny horror and crush it. Its body obliterated between his fingers and a wad of tissue gave Hollis a sense of satisfaction, but his nausea still crept. Stumbling to the bathroom down the hall, he found the light in time to fall before the toilet. His guts on fire, Hollis vomited his meal and bile into the porcelain bowl. There was a wrenching pain like food Eyes watering already digested was being dragged back up through his intestines as he continued to fill the toilet. from the effort and nose running, he finally succumbed to dry heaves as every ounce of material had voided itself from his body. But as he swiped fluid from his eyes, Hollis screamed at the new nightmare squirming among the stomach contents, for there in the toilet were dozen of living, writhing maggots. Reeling from the sight of what his body had just expunged, he had enough control of his senses to flush away the creatures before falling back onto the bathroom floor. His face resting on green floor mat, Hollis made a feeble attempt to deduce what he could have eaten in the last day As if realizing it had been discovered, it curled into a circle,
that would have contained the maggots. Even as he passed out with his cats wandering about his limp form, a part of him knew his reasoning for their appearance was flawed. The next day Hollis rose awkwardly and in some pain from his time of the bathroom floor. He saw to the morning’s rituals, a good portion of the early day wasted sipping coffee and staring out his kitchen window at grey hills across the river. The rain had picked up if anything, and he considered calling his acquaintance to put off hauling away the garbage on the back porch. At least the damnable stench had subsided. Still debating on whether or not to contact the individual with the truck, his cell phone gave a shrill ring in the silent house. passage. It was Hollis’s acquaintance, only blocks away, who needed the rickety gate opened to allow him Mumbling a number of curses, Hollis went in search of his shoes. Named Corwin, he was an affable man and the trash took a short time to load. However Hollis noticed him making strange faces on a number of occasions during the job, looks of intense displeasure that he failed to hide. When politely confronted about his concealed aggravation once the process had been completed and Hollis was paying him, Corwin remarked upon the wretched stink surrounding the porch. Hollis had no reply as the man drove off – he had detected no trace of the offending scent that day.
That evening, as the dark showers continued outside, Hollis was in his office writing. As he tried to compose a short story in time for an impending deadline, he found himself increasingly irritated by a persistent itch in his scalp. As his prose gave way to a disturbance that was becoming more than merely an annoyance, he stormed into the bathroom to examine his head. Parting his thick brown hair with the expectation of finding red, raw skin beneath, Hollis was instead revolted to discover a small mass of the slithering maggots. Screaming in as much fury as disgust, he leapt into the shower to claw frantically at his head. Stripping down under the water and lathering himself in all types of soaps, he scrubbed violently as he examined himself. A few stray maggots fell from his head and he crushed them underfoot before letting the tub’s modest current suck them down. Finally, no longer feeling any alien sensations upon him, he stepped out dripping to peer in the mirror. inspection, he decided he was clean. That night, Hollis threw the clothing he had been wearing along with his sheets and pillowcases into an old cardboard box. Determined to burn it and all its contents on the first available dry day, he carefully hauled the box to the back porch. He still didn’t smell anything. That third day, Hollis awoke intent of accomplishing a number of writing assignments. He still had all of that day After careful
plus the next two of downpours to dedicate to his work, but he his distractions were many. His two cats were acting more bizarre than usual, their normal playful antics grown aggressive and loud. Even once he had banished them to an unused bedroom, Hollis was permeated with tension. All around, he heard faint noises like his ears had become so sensitive he could listen in on water droplets rolling down bare surfaces. These subtle crawling sounds only served to heighten his physical unease, the memory of the maggots never far. Each whisper of movement teased his paranoia, his hands more often searching for an unwelcomed intruder than the appropriate key. After task. a disappointing word count, he wandered downstairs to find quick nourishment before returning to his Gawking in his refrigerator for something easily He needed to focus, his He had microwavable, Hollis sighed when his mind drifted to the day’s lack of achievement. concentration too easily swayed by imagined little terrors produced by undesired surprise of the maggots. barely slept or eaten in the past two days. Thinking upon this, Hollis began to yawn but was caught half way through by a wrenching, acute pain in his face. Directly below his left eye, it felt as if someone had driven a thick needle into the skin, piercing the lower ridge of his orbital bone. He clutched at his face in sudden agony and stumbled into the dinning room, grouping for the light
switch. The burst of illumination from the overhead lamps caused a new surge of excessive suffering, and Hollis had to fall against the dinning room table for support. Growling, he yanked himself over to wide mirror fastened to the near wall. He emitted a low whine as he pried his fingers apart to scrutinize his face, the spot below his left eye a bit red. As he gently probed the area, there was a slight shifting beneath the skin. Choking back a scream, Hollis pushed at the emerging protrusion and worked the bulge closer towards his eye. wiggling. Now Hollis did scream, and beat the tiny monstrosity from his face. The pain abated, he fumbled his way into one of the chairs near his dinning room table. His imagination in a frenzy, he tried to piece together any seemingly random events in hope of understanding what might be happening to him. Shortly, his chaotic mind began to operate on a certain bleak logic and Hollis concluded the basement needed further investigation. The few bare bulbs hung low from exposed wires like the last available pieces of electric fruit sprouted from the ceiling. Their dull glare in the expansive stone room did little to inspire confidence, too many niches and angles still enveloped in shadow. Hollis stood at the bottom of the steps From beneath his lower eyelid, a single maggot was discharged to land on his cheek, still alive and
and glanced around, seeking clues. He still didn’t detect any of the stench that had pervaded days ago. Cursing, he began marching about the crumbling floor, dodging light bulbs and keeping an eye out for any twitching movements. Where previously the heaps of discarded junk had littered the basement, the space remained bare and blameless. Wandering aimlessly, he found himself at the back of the room near the abandoned cubby. Hollis stopped short when he saw the plank of wood he had wedged against it. Here, all along the floor and reaching out along the Grey and cracks like some grotesque puddle, a plethora of small, indistinguishable mushrooms had sprung up. fleshy, they had developed rapidly from somewhere within the cloistered space, even climbing up the bottom of the warped hunk of cedar. Moving one of his larger trunks out of the way to fish out an old shovel, Hollis used the wooden handle to knock the plank free. With it dislodged, the sudden reek assaulted him and he stumbled back choking as he gaped at the miasma that rose from the damp, torn fungi. Their insides black and juicy, they appeared to steam in the dim illumination. Hollis fell back and found himself sitting on his trunk, only yards away from the narrow hole carved into the side of his basement once used to house coal and kindling. Without daylight from the high opposing window, the bulbs did
nothing to brighten its interior and a gash of oppressive blackness captured him. As Hollis sat entranced, he swore he heard that deeper black whisper to him, a prose of filth that promised violations both malevolent and majestic. Time no longer applied to Hollis as he allowed halfformed concepts of a brutal beauty cascade over him, through him, and out to other regions of the basement. It wasn’t until hours later, as the rays of day began to break the spell before him, that he staggered back up the stairs. He left the wooden plank on the floor next to the broken bits of mushroom and slammed the door as he fled. He found his way to the bathroom, his head swimming with aborted ideas he couldn’t quite recall or shake free from, and stood before the toilet. barely recognized. He urinated, zipped his pants back up, and stared at the reflection of a person he Hollis tried not to see the similarity between his pallor and the fungi below, that sickening pallid grey. Nor did he try and correlate the heavy puffiness he saw in his features with anything he had seen in the basement. As he exited to find relief upon his bed, Hollis definitely did not notice the handful of maggots he had expelled into the toilet with his piss. That next day Hollis rose and remembered to his dismay that he had left his cats imprisoned in the extra bedroom for over twenty-four hours. When he attempted to release them to their usual haunts throughout the house, the
feline duo hissed at him and refused to depart. spare litter box and deposited it all in the room. Any attempts at writing were foolhardy.
troubled sigh, he retrieved their food and water along with a Hollis could He
only think upon those horrid mushrooms that acted as silent beacons before the awaiting maw of the basement. spent much of the day wandering about the house, failing to dismiss the faint drone in his ears, and occasionally staring at himself in the dining room mirror. stranger that peered back at Hollis. back barely resembled a human. It was no longer a The image reflected He fell asleep at the
bottom of the stairs, only feet away from the door that led to the basement. Murmuring in restless, troubled slumber, his words were the echoes of things reverberating in the house. Quiet little whispers of the most magnificent depravity, they crept out of the windows, the floor boards, the door frames and every other corner of the house. It was the fifth and final day of rain. Hollis rose and staggered into the kitchen, retrieved a glass of water and choked it down. Stumbling upstairs, he burst into the extra bedroom where his cats had grown feral and crazed. Hissing in the corner, he moved past them to rip out the screen and open the window. Hollis hadn’t even made fully out of the room before his two cats had escaped out the window, onto the roof of the gabled back porch and sped off. Peeling his clothes off as he continued back down
the stairs, he felt a shifting in his back. Three steps from the bottom, he glanced back to see a pile of writhing maggots. Hollis simply shrugged. Naked, he fumbled with the basement door latch. One of his fingers fell off and exploded into a mass of squirming grey. He didn’t pay it any attention. Once, twice, a third time, Hollis battered his shoulder against the door until it broke open. Large chunks of his shoulder had fallen off, and thousands of maggots fell through the open wooden steps. Awkwardly swaying, a toe came off on the final step, but he made his way to the farther end of the basement. The fungus had taken over the wall and most of the floor, a plush pelt of grey. The thick, living darkness within the hole slithered into itself, twitched much like the maggots that Hollis now dropped from his flesh piece by piece. The deeper black and Hollis spoke to each other, in union spoke of devotion and desecrations. Both awaited the other, and only Hollis had to act. Something came with the rain to New Leeds, something that woke primal forces long buried, long forgotten. That water that came from the air, it mated with the earth in the most primitive, burning way and gave birth to an infectious darkness. A darkness that grew, a darkness that hungered, a darkness that lived. It was a darkness that compelled Hollis to press, crush and fit himself into that small coal cubby, his body
deteriorating as fast as his soul. And as the last bits of flesh gave way to filth and decay, he understood. In those last remaining moments, those last thoughts he had before his identity ceased, he understood that he was no longer in his basement. No, he had passed from there, beyond that, and had gone elsewhere. Somewhere, that deeper black…
Copyright ©2011 by Brian Fatah Steele
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