Fiction, The Ghost Writers

The Ghost Writers (excerpt)

17 October, ‘78

Dear Q,

I received yesterday by post the promised manuscript and dove headfirst into your delightful prose. Within a brief two hours’ time I had finished your novella and placed the last page upside down on the glorious pages that came before. I am not sure if I have ever been both moved so deeply and utterly terrified at the same time. Your description of the Ancients is remarkably accurate for one who has yet to become an initiate of the Brotherhood, but I sense in your words your keen understanding of the motives behind slaves and masters, alike. I truly cannot guess or anticipate with any of amount of a disciple’s fervor what we are to encounter at the end of this fools’ gambit into which we have entered. Yet, we must remain steadfast in our conviction that ours is the just cause. I am contacting straight away Mr. Brackman at Dark Hearts to implore him to include post haste Sunset over Golgotha in one of the upcoming publications of Dread Realms. My hope being that the sooner we get your prophetic words in front of the those who cower in their darkened abodes, fearing to draw to themselves the wrong sorts of attention while secretly within their hearts remaining committed to our endeavors, the quicker we may prepare others, as we have begun to prepare ourselves, for the inevitable tribulations to befall at Their Coming.

In the meantime, I will correspond with the others in our circle (I encourage you to do the same) so that we all may arrive at a consensus regarding our future actions.

As for myself, I near completion of The Forgotten Exile and have begun concurrently work on two short stories and another novel that, for the time being, I am calling, The Paladin’s Betrayal.

Until the next time we are able to exchange correspondence, continue your surveillances. We must all remain vigilant for I fear that the irrevocable crossing of the threshold approaches with a speed akin to that of the harshest light.

 Forever Your Faithful Friend and Compatriot,

V.P. Hobbs

 2.

If I were being honest with myself, I would admit that the letter I just read still had me flailing about in the dark. There, of course, were several familiar references that blossomed in me a once dormant recognition. I knew by reputation the work, Sunset over Golgotha, by Jacob Alistair Quincey. I knew it in the way that those characters in Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow knew of that eponymous work of blasphemy. Any copy of Quincey’s story was impossible to locate, having been banned and burned in whatever land fate or unknowing bibliophile had delivered a copy. It’s fortune was completely unlike the manuscript of Chambers’ fictional play. In the stories that ultimately made up The King in Yellow, the pages of the play circulated secretly like contraband despite the warnings of the maddening effects of the play’s second act. No, Golgotha seemed to have been eradicated effectively from existence as it, too, as rumor had it, drove many of those who attempted to read it to frightened madness and to varying degrees of self-harm and violence against others. There were even whispers in dark corners of the world of weird fiction that no one had ever been able to read the novella in its entirety before succumbing to its vexing manic inducement. In time, no one in his or her right mind wanted to glimpse even a word from that profane tome.

But now, I did.

I jotted down some notes:

  1. Brackman, Dark Hearts—publisher??
  2. Dread Realms magazine
  3. Brotherhood?????
  4. Sunset over Golgotha
  5. Ancients

Of course, I had in my possession the rare copy of Hobbs’ The Forgotten Exile, thanks in part to Rachel. Thus far in my reading, its narrative style resembled most every other work by its author. From it, I had yet to glean any identifiable clue as to the mysterious subject of many of the cryptic correspondences among The Ghost Writers.

At this point, I could only put on the backburner my fruitless (and uncomfortably obsessive and potentially unfounded) investigation and get on with the true job at hand.

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