“The Man Who Went Too Far” by E.F. Benson

Summer Vacation:
A monster story and a philosophical story about summertime, communion with the natural world, spiritual youth, the inescapable horror of death, and the inescapable horror of life.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Went Too Far”

E.F. Benson

The little village of St. Faith’s nestles in a hollow of wooded till up on the north bank of the river Fawn in the country of Hampshire, huddling close round its grey Norman church as if for spiritual protection against the fays and fairies, the trolls and “little people,” who might be supposed still to linger in the vast empty spaces of the New Forest, and to come after dusk and do their doubtful businesses. Once outside the hamlet you may walk in any direction (so long as you avoid the high road which leads to Brockenhurst) for the length of a summer afternoon without seeing sign of human habitation, or possibly even catching sight of another human being. Continue reading

“Why We Do Not Behave Like Human Beings” by Ralph Adams Cram, with Discussion

U.S. Inauguration Day:
“All the multiple manifestations of a free and democratic society fail of their predicted issue, and we find ourselves lapped in confusion and numb with disappointment and chagrin.”

“Why We Do Not Behave Like Human Beings”

Ralph Adams Cram

The Ancient doctrine of progressive evolution which became dominant during the last half of the nineteenth century, was, I suggest, next to the religious and philosophical dogmas of Dr. Calvin and the political and social doctrines of M. Rousseau, the most calamitous happening of the last millennium. In union with Protestantism and democracy, and apparently justified in its works by the amazing technological civilization fostered by coal, iron, steam and electricity, it is responsible for the present estate of society, from which there is no escape, it would seem, except through comprehensive calamity. Continue reading

“Ronald Skirth” from Wikipedia

Armistice Day:
The only type of war hero worthy of veneration.
-The Voice before the Void

“Ronald Skirth”

Wikipedia

John Ronald Skirth (11 December 1897 – 1977) served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War. His experiences during the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Passchendaele led him to resolve not to take human life, and for the rest of his army service he made deliberate errors in targeting calculations to try to ensure the guns of his battery missed their aiming point on the first attempt, giving the enemy a chance to evacuate. Many years later, after retiring from a career as a teacher, he wrote a memoir of his years in the army, describing his disillusionment with the conduct of the war and his conversion to pacifism. In 2010 the memoir was published as The Reluctant Tommy, edited by Duncan Barrett.

1. Early life and war service

Skirth was born in Chelmsford and grew up in Bexhill-on-Sea. In the First World War, having volunteered for the British Army under the Derby Scheme, and having requested that the process be expedited, he was called up in October 1916, two months before his 19th birthday. Continue reading

“The Night Ocean” by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

Halloween:
Amidst brooding philosophy, the pieces of the horror lie unobtrusively throughout the story for us to fit together. A superb story.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Night Ocean”

R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

I went to Ellston Beach not only for the pleasures of sun and ocean, but to rest a weary mind. Since I knew no person in the little town, which thrives on summer vacationists and presents only blank windows during most of the year, there seemed no likelihood that I might be disturbed. This pleased me, for I did not wish to see anything but the expanse of pounding surf and the beach lying before my temporary home.

My long work of the summer was completed when I left the city, and the large mural design produced by it had been entered in the contest. It had taken me the bulk of the year to finish the painting, and when the last brush was cleaned I was no longer reluctant to yield to the claims of health and find rest and seclusion for a time. Indeed, when I had been a week on the beach I recalled only now and then the work whose success had so recently seemed all-important. There was no longer the old concern with a hundred complexities of colour and ornament; no longer the fear and mistrust of my ability to render a mental image actual, and turn by my own skill alone the dim-conceived idea into the careful draught of a design. And yet that which later befell me by the lonely shore may have grown solely from the mental constitution behind such concern and fear and mistrust. For I have always been a seeker, a dreamer, and a ponderer on seeking and dreaming; and who can say that such a nature does not open latent eyes sensitive to unsuspected worlds and orders of being? Continue reading

“Darkness” by Lord Byron

Halloween:
Ineluctably, the world shall end.
-The Voice before the Void

ca-1825-jmw-turner-barnard-castle-watercolor
“Darkness”

Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crownéd kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face; Continue reading

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

I sat down with Noelle Myers, the moderator of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group, which meets every two weeks in the Grand Forks Public Library in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The Red River, which flows through Grand Forks north to the Hudson Bay, catastrophically flooded the city in 1997. The Grand Forks Herald won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of the flood.
We talked about Northern Ink’s Life in the North anthology; fiction genres; literary charities; writers’ conferences; constructive criticism; narrative construction; creating a new genre; geological and economical fiction; the “new adult” genre; “heat” or sex in fiction; rules for publishing and “pirate rules”; taboo subjects in fiction; the difference between romance fiction and women’s fiction or literary fiction; science fiction and Hugo Gernsback; sub-genres; anthologies; the purpose of life; being a better writer; the UND and NDSU sports rivalry; sports, arts, literature, and other frivolity; beauty; collegiate sports funding; online writing groups and writing sprints; dead-tree books and Nooks; antique children’s books; book collecting; the Grand Forks Flood of 1997; antique stores; the library swap shelf; support and encouragement; the Grand Forks Herald and its Pulitzer; and writers’ characters.
“There’s like 20 different -punks.”
-The Voice before the Void

Northern Ink
The Laughing Girls Poetry Reading Series and The Laughing Girls on Facebook
Teegan Loy at Dreamspinner Press
Written? Kitten!
WriteOrDie.com
PaperbackSwap.com

Interview with Noelle Myers of the Northern Ink Writers’ Group of Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Voice before the Void

“The Gun” by Philip K. Dick

Some pointed pulp science fiction from Master Dick.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Gun”

Philip K. Dick

The Captain peered into the eyepiece of the telescope. He adjusted the focus quickly.

“It was an atomic fission we saw, all right,” he said presently. He sighed and pushed the eyepiece away. “Any of you who wants to look may do so. But it’s not a pretty sight.”

“Let me look,” Tance the archeologist said. He bent down to look, squinting. “Good Lord!” He leaped violently back, knocking against Dorle, the Chief Navigator.

“Why did we come all this way, then?” Dorle asked, looking around at the other men. “There’s no point even in landing. Let’s go back at once.”

“Perhaps he’s right,” the biologist murmured. “But I’d like to look for myself, if I may.” He pushed past Tance and peered into the sight. Continue reading

“Krampus” from Wikipedia

Krampusnacht Special:
Winter is the darkest time of year.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Krampus”

Wikipedia

In German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure. According to traditional narratives around the figure, Krampus punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved children with gifts. Regions in the Austrian diaspora feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure. Continue reading

“Tomb of Orcus” from Wikipedia

An ancient tomb in Italy bears the only known picture of a mysterious monster of the underworld.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Tomb of Orcus”

Wikipedia

The Tomb of Orcus (Italian: Tomba dell’Orco), sometimes called the Tomb of Murina, is a 4th-century BCE Etruscan hypogeum (burial chamber) in Tarquinia, Italy. Discovered in 1868, it displays Hellenistic influences in its remarkable murals, which include the portrait of Velia Velcha, an Etruscan noblewoman, and the only known pictorial representation of the daemon Tuchulcha. In general, the murals are noted for their depiction of death, evil, and unhappiness.Tomb of Orcus mural chthonic daemon Tuchulcha and hero These Theseus in underworld Continue reading

“The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft

1934 May 11 sketch of statue icon of Old One Great God Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft author creator in short story The Call of CthulhuCosmic horror.
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However phantasmical his narratives may be, Lovecraft’s assertion that it is horrific to ponder what immensities in our universe must lie hidden from us oozes through as profoundly true.
/
(R’lyeh might be the capital of North Carolina.)
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Call of Cthulhu”

H.P. Lovecraft

Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival… a survival of a hugely remote period when… consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity… forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds…
–Algernon Blackwood

I. The Horror in Clay

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden eons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. Continue reading

“Desire” by Nina Farley Wishek

Wishek was an accomplished poet.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Desire”

Nina Farley Wishek

I longed to sail a gallant ship,
Swinging across the sea–
But well I know, no phantom bark
Will ever sail for me. Continue reading

“Lazarus” by Leonid Andreyev, part 2

And all that there is about art.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Lazarus”

Leonid Andreyev

translated from the Russian by Abraham Yarmolinsky

part 2

IV

At that time there lived in Rome a renowned sculptor. In clay, marble, and bronze he wrought bodies of gods and men, and such was their beauty, that people called them immortal. But he himself was discontented and asserted that there was something even more beautiful, that he could not embody either in marble or in bronze. “I have not yet gathered the glimmers of the moon, nor have I my fill of sunshine,” he was wont to say, “and there is no soul in my marble, no life in my beautiful bronze.” And when on moonlight nights he slowly walked along the road, crossing the black shadows of cypresses, his white tunic glittering in the moonshine, those who met him would laugh in a friendly way and say: Continue reading

The Dog by Francisco Goya from Wikipedia

Francisco Goya’s Birthday Special:
Power astonishing and fully painful.
⁓The Voice before the Void

Francisco Goya El perro The dog Perro semihundido Black Paintings 1819-1823

The Dog by Francisco Goya

Wikipedia

The Dog is the name usually given to a painting by Spanish artist Francisco Goya, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. It shows the head of a small black dog gazing upwards. The dog itself is almost lost in the vastness of the rest of the image, which is empty except for a dark sloping area near the bottom of the picture: an unidentifiable mass which conceals the animal’s body.

The Dog is one of the Black Paintings Goya painted directly onto the walls of his house sometime between 1819 and 1823. He did not intend the paintings for public exhibition Continue reading

“How many more times must we meet…” by Susan Loone

An extraordinary piece.
⁓The Voice before the Void

View other art and poetry by Susan Loone at sloonepoems.wordpress.com and at sloone.blogspot.com

How many more times must we meet Susan Loone art love

“How many more times must we meet…”

Susan Loone

When I took you aside and told you we have met a thousand years ago, it was not meant to be a pick up line. It was meant to be a reunion of two old souls.

Eventually, it was only I who recognised you, while you have no inkling of who I am. Continue reading

“Final Train” by Jason Heeley

An ominous mood finely rendered in art and prose.
⁓The Voice before the Void

View other works by Jason Heeley at jasonheeley.deviantart.com

Final Train by Jason Heeley on deviantART ghost death spectre reaper spooky eerie platform station

“Final Train”

Jason Heeley

I was fascinated by diesel locos as a child, always impressed by the vague, terrifying notions of whatever I imagined was caged inside each of those grimy, rolling metal hulks – that which thundered and protested and shook concrete and stone as it passed. Their appearance seemed to me evocative of something unstoppable, otherworldly, cold, and immensely threatening. Throughout my adult life, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time on Britain’s crumbling rail network, but nothing I’ve seen since has seemed to match the power of those old childhood imprints, locked in memory. Trains are emotive things, as witnessed by the number of romances, thrillers, and chilling supernatural tales concerning them – perhaps the reason is that so many real journeys begin and end with them.

But what if there was always one final train to take? A service we all board at our own designated hour. You may find yourself on that strangely silent platform without warning. Soon, an immense, dark loco pulls in slowly with its train, crackling and shuddering as some unearthly energy courses angrily beneath its decaying metal skin. Of course, you are compelled to travel – whatever its destination may be…