Forum Posts

Charles Gillingham
Feb 27, 2020
In Claytemple Fiction
A Nightmare By Charles Gillingham Hunger is the motivation for most actions, I understood this best while the family, the wife and the daughter and I, were racing together towards our salvation. We had decided together to defeat that most ancient of enemies, together. My self-appointed task in this collective endeavor was the tallying of necessities. The wife's was to direct the assessments of need. The daughter's was not to wander off during this whole procedure. I was given the general outline of our plan. We were to purchase bread and cheese. I was tasked to supply sums of the needed capital in order to enact the plan. I made preliminary inquiries by actuating my electro mathematical and intercomunicative processive contraptionavalary. An automated hierarchical reductive process analyzed the entirety of human historically generated knowledge. By editing variables the search was narrowed to only the information required for our current outing. This automated process also, without my consent or foreknowledge, cross referenced financial figures against those supplied by other outlets located in this incorporated area. After studying the charts and figures, the only possible conclusion I could reveal is that, in the final analysis, the sum total of our expedition would be two dollars and fourteen cents. The agreement was finalized at almost the precise second that we arrived at our destination. The enormous and cruel artifice of the grocery stood before us, commanding, a gross testament to the power of the carbon bond. How long it had been there few could say, it seemed to have always been there, a tumor growing from the landscape, it's genesis long forgotten by all those that might know of it. It's beckoning neon glow reaching out towards the furthest possible reaches of photons, grasping, calling any wretched human insect that was misfortunate enough to venture close enough. We frequented it because it offered cheap fried chicken on Mondays. We marched forward through a lackadaisical fog, through a cavern of glass and steel, surrounded by the fuming rabble, our fellow shoppers. And like us many pulled along burdens, their imperfect replicantes, screaming and fighting to get at the candy aisle. Our own prodigy fought tooth and nail, attempting to make deep rents in my arm, to no avail. Soon it was to pass that we had transversed enough of that den of commerce that the cheese department was in sight. Long we awaited this moment. Though, as I was soon to discover, all our hopes were dashed, like lost sailors on craggy and brackish rocks. Not a breath after we entered the proximity of cheese, did I spot him, there standing clear as night, at the end of the aisle. My oppressor. Long had I wasted the seconds of my life under his yoke. Twisting my body hauling all manner of stone and brick, according to his direction. The hot sun rending from me enough sweat to fill oceans, cracking my skin and drying out my flesh; the burning cold draining the life from my limbs, so ultimately I would be as a mosquito in amber, or like a dog that had fallen into a tar pit. The love of my family driving me forward through the dredged mud. But that was not enough. I freed myself from that compensated servitude. Many times he would tell me a tale, of his brother, how his brother purchased a certain truck, one that according to this tyrant had been too large. Long would he speculate of how this increased mass would, over it's life, consume too much fuel. Ever the prolific raconteur, he would beset this tale upon me a few times a week, til my mind because a thick ooze of madness. For the sake of self preservation I would seek out exotic intoxicates and foreign liquors to try to destroy that cursed ghoul that my memories had become. Perhaps this is why I can not now remember my mother's face. Luck would have it that the monster did not yet notice me. Few that were damned to exist within his range could escape his wraith. Many a mail carrier or passing craftsmen had I seen be caught in his web. The poison would first take form as inquires about present vocation or natal location. Soon it would transform into a sticky malaise, freedom only for those of the strongest of wills, those weaker of heart would be consumed, the bones of their mind ground to dust by an idiotic grist stone. Those poor souls sapped of so much energy even the release of self-induced death was not possible. For what could any of us do? My tongue was held by this middle-aged terror. I wanted to tell the wife to make haste, the retreat from this doomed supermarket was of the highest expediency. But just as in dreams of paralysis, my limbs and lips were caught as if in a snare. I could but look at the world, as if I had died and my phantom floated above me, watching the filthy cogs of the universe spin without my capability of stopping them. The wife was reasoning over a selection of goudas and limburgers, each worth greater species than which we agreed on during the locomotion that brought us here. She was oblivious to the Hell that I found myself in. As oblivious was our ward, who orbited around us like a derelict being sucked into a whirlpool. Her pleas for candy had long ago abated. During all this that creature was coming closer to us. Thankfully he hadn't noticed me, for he would have shot towards me as a bubble through water. Finally, my chocking reverie calmed itself, and I could plead with my wife to hurry her decisive choice. But my persistence was for not, nothing persuaded her. Any request for quickness would only result in the counteraction. And every moment that troll came ever close, his senses unable of noticing me no matter how close he came. I begged her to settle on the cheapest brie, though with every step the antagonist came closer my voice dropped lower, I wouldn't risk him hearing my voice. For then he would start in on telling me about which was his favorite race car driver, or an opinion about such and such banal building material, or a prognostication of the weather, or the contents of his over cluttered garage, or the progress of his child's recreation, or the million other subjects that I nor anyone of this world would have any interest in. Everything became a buzzing haze, melting away into my wife's voiced considerations related to congealed milk, the lamentations of our daughter, and the dread sound of tiny feet coming ever and ever closer. Only by the first rays of the sun could I have escaped this nightmare. I blinked a few times at the blinding light, rolled over, and awaited whatever new terror lurked in my synapses.
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Charles Gillingham
Jan 18, 2020
In Elder Sign
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN7OCxae91A
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Charles Gillingham
Nov 10, 2019
In Claytemple Fiction
"Well, here you go." said the award presenter. by Charles Gillingham "How long has Dylan been in there?" Lloyd asked. "Since yesterday morning." Julie answered. "Yesterday morning?" Lloyd puzzled for a second over how anyone could possible do that. More than twenty four hours. Did he sleep in there? Where did he relieve himself? With how beautiful and amazing the world was, how could anyone do that? Dylan had been in the Simulator for longer stretches than that. One time he had been in there for three days. Fortunately that was over a winter break. Lloyd had learned to ignore it. He used to delude himself that Dylan was doing something educational, or at least interesting, in there, but by now he had given up on that fantasy. That hadn't been true for many a year. A wave of blasting heat welcomed him as the door slid open. He already knew what he would find inside, long before the smell of brimstone hit him. The last time he had been inside this program, it had singed off his eye brows. The safety protocols had been doubled right then and there. Sitting on a throne made of skulls, gaudily lit by burning lost souls, was President Gaines. He wear a red suit, and two two foot long horns grew out of his head, poking through one of those repulsive MUSWA hats, dull blue in contrast to everything else. Lloyd did all he could not to laugh, but his efforts weren't enough. "I can't believe my son, or anyone for that matter, would want to meet you in person." "Frankly, I don't know why people like you are allowed in my throne room. Bad people, the worst people. I tell you, I haven't met people as bad as you before, very bad people." Gaines said, waving his arms around like he does. "Because of how much your money protects you, I, a regular patriotic citizen of this country, will never be able to say this to you in person. But maybe if I say it here, maybe the universe will somehow get it to you. You're everything that's wrong with the world. You've earned nothing. You stole that last election. But we won't let you steal this next one." Lloyd left the Simulator angry, holding back screams, the sneering face of President Gaines floating in his mind. How could Dylan stand being in the same Simulator as that monster? The real Devil would have been better. It was Julie's idea to have the Simulator installed. And it was a great idea, at first. It was top of the line, ten years ago, only the best for his dear little boy! Lloyd and Dylan canoed down the Amazon quite a few times. Gotten most of the way up Mount Everest. And one time even visited the Moon! Dylan would always want to play out whatever book he was read, from some of his favorite authors, usually science fiction authors, like Robert A. Heinlein or Ray Bradbury. Lloyd would always try to point Dylan towards educational or historic programs, but no matter where they went Dylan would become focused on the same thing. Some little thing would scurry too close, and Dylan would grab it and start to squeeze. Squeeze till it couldn't breath, squeeze till it turned blue and then black. After the first time, Lloyd programmed the Simulator to automatically dissolve the critter. Dylan would cry and pull enough of a fit that that was a good enough excuse to leave the Simulator. After a few times of that, Dylan would stop grabbing little things. But that didn't last long. A few months later, he would be back to it, Julie came around the corner with the telephone receiver in her hand, the cord half wrapped around her arm. "It's the school. His counselor said that Dylan has missed the last two weeks of school." "What!" Lloyd snatched the receiver from his wife's hand "Hello. Yes, this is Mr. Uppendahl. What is this about my son Dylan missing school?" "Oh yes sir, hello, I'm Mr. Darrow." Said Mr. Darrow "Not only has your son Dylan missed the last two weeks of school, but before then we had many reports from other students of his antisocial behavior. He's been telling other students how important the 2nd Amendment is, and how he will defend it if need be. Usually any support of Gaines, either open or suspected, warrants a call home, but I thought I could give your son Dylan a chance to recover on his own. I would have asked for your permission to send him to tolerance classes, of course." "Well thank you." Lloyd said "This is all a big shock to me. I know that my son Dylan has missed a few days, here and there, but not that much. He conjures up Gaines quite often in our Simulator, I held out hope that it was only as a villain for the current program. I'm such a fool. This is all my fault." "Don't blame yourself, sir," Mr. Darrow said "it's been proven over and over just how much Canada has clandestinely influenced our country. Why, just yesterday, I was posing as a younger boy, middle school aged, in an online forum. When someone, obviously posing as a few people, started talking to me about maple syrup. That's their method, to flush out other shills. Well pretty soon they were talking about how often moose attacks can become fatal, and how important guns rights are. You can imagine how quickly that line of thought led to much more radicalizing ideas. If that wasn't radicalizing enough already!" "Oh wow that must have been terrible." Lloyd said. "Very much so, but it was a learning opportunity. I feel that every time I encounter one of those people, I get closer to discovering a way to combat the radicalization. In fact that's why I'm calling you right now. I would like to visit your home, I would like talk to your son Dylan. I'm confident I can bring him about to the right side of history." The minutes waiting for Mr. Darrow were painful. Lloyd knew a lot more than just his son's fate was on the line. The fate of the whole world exists in all of us. What if Dylan couldn't be saved? Was that even possible? A knock at the door. The robot maid went to answer it. His clanking wheels roared in the pregnant silence. Mr. Darrow entered the home solemnly, taking care in taking off his rain trenched overcoat. "Remember how bad it smelt before self-driving electric cars?" A common greeting when first entering a new home, but a truism never the less. He wasted no time: "Where is Dylan?" The doors of the Simulator slide open, to a prefect facsimile of Mr. Darrow's office. A cassette tape recorder was slowly spinning on the top of his desk. "I don't remember leaving that running..." "No matter how realistic this might seem, it's not real, we're still in the Simulator. It might be detailed, but it's no where near as detailed as it might be if we were using a newer model Simulator. These old models can make light and heat, and a few solid objects, but that's about it." Lloyd reminded them. "This is realistic enough for me." Julie said. "Well, we had better go looking for," Mr. Darrow was interrupted by several loud explosions, followed by cluttered screaming. In order to investigate, the group bust out the door of Mr. Darrow's office. They found a deserted hallway, with blowing heaps of papers and long streaking stains on the floor. Blood. Reaching long down the hall, as far as they could see. More explosions. "That was from the direction of the library. Hurry!" Mr. Darrow informed they. When they reached the library doors, they found them difficult to open. All three pushed as hard as they could, finally they managed to get it open, only to discover a body was holding them shut. More screams. More explosions. Blood everywhere, dripping for tables and books, computer monitors and the card catalog. Out in the center of the library, in the middle of half a dozen over turned tables, was Dylan, laughing and swinging around a massive HKB 4045 assault rifle, sending bullets at random places and people in the room. "That's impossible, guns have been illegal for ten years. There is absolutely no way Dylan could have acquired one. This must be a projection of the Simulator." Mr. Darrow said. Lloyd look right into Mr. Darrow's eyes. "No, this simulator isn't advanced enough to make something like that. Any solid object created in here could only move so fast. I've thrown rocks so fast they dematerialized." Mr. Darrow could barely finish his nod when his head burst into a million pieces. His head detonated, much like the IEDs used by defenders of those nations that have had to withstand the imperialism of America, America has no right to interfere in the affairs of other countries, sovereign nations that are entitled to make their own destiny, besides America doesn't understand or respect those cultures, they shouldn't be trying to change those people's way of life, and every US soldier that dies over there deserves it because they are monsters. Deafened by the shoot, Lloyd could still hear Julie screaming behind him. He grabbed her by the arm, and launched both of them behind a near by book shelf. A spray of bullets followed them. As they dove down, bullets caused an entire row of books to fall, a cascade of novels and almanacs starting at one side and moving to the other. One particularly heavy volume caught Julie on the back of her head. She was out cold. Lloyd tried waking her, but couldn't, though she was still breathing. Dylan came around the corner, standing at the end of the aisle. He raised his gun and leveled it at Lloyd. "No son, noooooo. I know this isn't you. Gaines caused this. You were my prefect little boy. My son. You couldn't do this. You wouldn't do this. That monster did it. I'm glad I got you this Simulator. Maybe it could have taught you how to avoid this. I love you son. I hate Gaines. Why did he have to do this? Son, don't do this. We can hide what happened to Mr. Darrow. There is still hope for you. There is always hope. For everyone." Dylan just looked at him, with a small little smirk. "MAKE UNITED STATES WORK AGAIN!" he screamed, before he pulled the trigger. It was too late to save Dylan, but is it too late to save us? John clapped, a wild applause that he sustained til his hands hurt. He loved it. He couldn't write that good, that brilliantly. It was sure to win at the Vernes. Even better, it will change the world, make this planet a lot better to live on. "This is sure to win at the Vernes. Better, it will change the world, make this planet a little better to live on." John actually said this out loud. He was laughing and crying tears of joy as he left the Simulator. This was it, his big break. He was so glad that he asked the Simulator to write him a story that would win him a Verne. He walked over to the wall mounted printer, and gleefully asked for this story to be printed out. He would collate and mail it out right away, the prize deadline was just a week off. Express air mail would certainly be quick enough to get it there. He could already feel the pats on his back, and the cool cannon-shaped metal of the Verne cradled in his arms.
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Charles Gillingham
Oct 23, 2019
In Elder Sign
I have to say, hearing Mr. Budda giggle his way through read some of that story is one of the best things I've ever encountered in a podcast. Hilarious. That's all!
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Charles Gillingham
Oct 09, 2019
In Elder Sign
Great episode. Whichever listener that recommended the story has great taste. I actually did recommend it because of the hot dog scene. That's also why I read it to my wife! Your cast really opened up the story for me, thank you. I've read Ligotti's three most physically accessible books. (I finished one of them just two days ago!) I have a good grasp on his style. The method of his terror, or rather it's setting, is more or less always the same: urban or suburban cities going through decay. He is from Detroit, which is the epicenter of urban decay, the bradycardic heart of the rust belt. While no where near as bad, my childhood shared a lot of the same grossness of the story. I have been in some really rough places. All terror has origins in our childhood insecurities. Our farm breed forebears were scared of the dark, the wolves at the edge of the fire, the alien. People like Lovecraft wrote about that terror, because that was the terror of his age. The terror of our age is rot, clutter, decay, regret, degeneration, despair. I grew up in a poor family, in the poor part of town, in poor towns, in poor houses. Things weren't that bad, but sometimes things were falling apart or smelt bad. The Pacific Northwest has it's own very unique sort of grossness, probably due to how wet everything is, and how just a few hours drive away is an endless desert wasteland. I certainly relate to the narrator's main complaint, and know why he has such a problem with his parent's smoking. And why all us lost souls only harp on the most about the small things. Because they are controllable. The hole in the closest will take huge resources to fix, which some elective vice takes much less will to fix. The neighborhood will take decades to fix, if ever, while any given family can dig themselves out in a few short years. Maybe. And if the damn parents can stop smoking maybe they can afford to paint the house! Having said all that, even though I don't share in those vices, I still can't find the energy to clean up whatever random mess is around here, or planting my own food which would save me so much money. The terror is we made so much we're drowning in it. I live in a pretty rural area, across the street from me, swallowed up by the woods, is an abandoned house. It looks to be very old. That conjures up in my mind a crew of men building it, scrutinizing every angle and cut. It must have been a lot of fun putting it up, the builders must have taken a lot of pride in their work. And now it's nothing. The opposite is equally terrible, coats of painting and polish put on a corpse, like make up on a cadaver, people desperate trying to keep a dead thing alive. A forest's canopy choking out new life. Ligotti's antinatalism is central to understanding his stories. The disease we must be purified of is life itself. Countries, religions, families, all give us reasons to life. Ideas that keep us going. While the only true path to happiness is never being. The whole philosophy is pretty hard to argue against, from the logical perspective. The strategy of opposing it so far seems to be just ignoring it. Which obviously isn't enough. The point made that purity is a negative concept, is brilliant, and weird that I never realized that. So Ligotti the antinatalist sees what the problem is, life, and chooses the equivalent of ignoring the problem, non-life. I'm certainly also guilty of seeing problems while being incapable of purposing solutions. I don't know if I answered any of your questions, or just ranted. I should start making master threads for any given cast, listing questions and writing prompts you dude's purpose.
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Charles Gillingham
Aug 15, 2019
In Elder Sign
The real horror of The Lottery is how rational and routine the ritual is. It's become so banal that it's origins are forgotten. Jackson must have been thinking about the Holocaust when she was writing this story. In all ways, the Lottery is how an American Holocaust would happen. Decentralised, democratic, wrapped in tradition with hints of folklore.
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Charles Gillingham
Jul 27, 2019
In Elder Sign
Miéville must have been 25 or 26 when he wrote Perdido Street Station. Likely a similar age when he wrote this short story. This is flippant disregard for Miéville's character, but, we were all young once, Miéville's claim that his mail is being inspected because he's a socialist is simply just him being an edgey teen. The classic, "I'm a "radical" socialist and I'm so special and important and everyone is after me." Heck, even Marx is guilty of this, everyone has a bit of the victim complex when it comes to their politics, ideologies that believe themselves to be outside the norm more so. Perdido Street Station is likely the most disgusting book I've ever read, and it oozed with edgy teenism as well. The Scar to a slightly lesser extent. I assume as he matured he's settled down, which happens to most people. Anyhow, I'm a big fan of Miéville, thanks for doing this story, I've had this collection for years and you finally made me crack it open. You dudes have such a measured, honest, and wise way of discussing everything. Even when you say something I passionately disagree with, you make me stop and reevaluate things. Or maybe I'm just beginning to not be an edgy teen myself.
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Charles Gillingham
Jul 01, 2019
In Elder Sign
https://tvline.com/2019/06/30/the-sandman-series-netflix-neil-gaiman/ I didn't really know where to post this. This will be out after the podcast starts, maybe it will give a bump to the other podcasts, too. I irrationally hate Neil Gaiman. But I will begrudgingly read the series in order to listen along. Now all I need is a library card!
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Charles Gillingham
Mar 28, 2019
In Gene Wolfe
I'm not the first person to bring this up. Though now I forget where I first read about it. The three novellas in Fifthhead resemble the Solar Cycle in structure. Almost exactly. The Fifthhead of Cerberus is New Sun. The memoir of someone that slowly figures out they are a clone. It even shares some of the same themes and motifs. The use of dreams and a play. The nature vs nurture debate. The planned perfection of an individual though generational changes. Monkeys. Half robot half men. Even the mixing of high brow with more pulpy stuff, with the monster battle at the end. A Story is Long Sun. A cobbled together fairy tale. With an emphasis on individual patterns of speaking and religion. Naming conventions. People getting stuck in a pit. It ends with a planet getting colonized. VRT is Short Sun. Told as journals from different time periods, as well as a larger frame story. About a man that doesn't realize he's another man. Wacky alien animals. Lots of hunting. Tall tales. Vaguely eastern European people. Apologies if this has been related here before. And too whom ever in the Wolfe pack I first heard it from.
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Charles Gillingham
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