Wednesday, April 23, 2014

H.P. Lovecraft Meets Hunter S. Thompson: "The Shadow Over Las Vegas."

Yes, been lean with the blog recently, let's get back to it with a story!  But...this one's longer than just one blog. The story is split into three sections, so let's roll with it like that, okay?  As if I can hear your response--a cheerful, "sure, John Claude," or a grumbling, "whatever."

The story is my H.P. Lovecraft/Hunter S. Thompson mash-up, "The Shadow Over Las Vegas."  This appeared in the excellent Cthulhu Unbound, Volume 1, from 2009.

I had received Terry Gilliam's mad cinematic adaptation of Thompson's Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas for Christmas a year or two earlier and had spent January the following year with that movie looped in my DVD player. Such a hallucinatory, madcap ride.  A few months later I had a passing throught, why not write a story based on Thompson's tale, but with Lovecraft riding shotgun. I re-purchased the book--one of my favorites--re-read it, and dived in.  This, my friends, was the demented result. Yes, I would probably tweak-edit the thing, but not messing with that now.


Without further adieu...

"The Shadow Over Las Vegas" by moi!




     I had the fear….

     We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to wear off, dissipating in dark, hallucinatory clouds, amorphous and alive.  I turned to my attorney, whose face had begun to melt into a writhing mass of tentacles and said, “You look a bit fishy; maybe you should let me drive.” 

     He shook his head—no--and grumbled something about feeling “gibbous,” strange word, that one.  I suspect it was definition # 2 in Webster’s Dictionary that most suited his condition: “More than half but less than fully illuminated …” as in, not completely wasted—but we could rectify that problem.  He chattered something more about needing “drugs, give me more drugs,” arms waving around like pterodactyl wings, his ponderous girth making the car shake or…could it be that we were pushing ninety in a vehicle not accustomed to such velocity?  I popped a couple of shub-nigguraths (black beauties shaped liked scrotums) into his beak-like maw and he immediately transformed into something almost human again, bloated around the gills but nevertheless unremarkable to those of the Vegas grind—and that was where we were headed: Las Vegas.

     There were no innocents in Las Vegas, hence, no reason to pussyfoot around that stained label.  The innocence in Las Vegas disappeared upon birth, buried under lights of neon and assisted by one-armed bandits draining money, integrity, hope, and life itself, all for a silver dollar or three, or ten, or…   

     I took a couple of the shub-nigguraths as well, a bitter, chalky, furry flush down my esophagus—it tasted like goat semen (don’t ask; don’t ask!).  I was in need of something to curb these weird vibrations, but I knew immediately I would regret it. 

     With a rush like an avalanche of night, unknown constellations dripped from the midday sky, streaking the hot blue horizon with black slashes like scars that bled onto the gray asphalt beyond the Big Black Tsathoggua—our vehicle nicknamed for some such hirsute frog, so said my attorney (“it’s bloated in the same way”), laughing, amused by his bizarre brain.  We had rented the vehicle from a used car dealership in Los Angeles a few hours back, putting it on the card—our open-ended expense account: unlimited credit in the hands of such foolhardy tourists as us--sponsored by the editors of Miskatonic Today, some cheap exploitation rag into the likes of alien abductions, never-was celebrities, obscure cults, and endless Elvis and/or Jesus sightings in out of the way, rarely-trod-by-human places--mostly in the southern states of the US of A--and/or staring back from used diapers or the sweaty wife beaters worn by some illegal immigrant looking to avoid the publicity--but look what God has blessed him with.  I was sure, much to their chagrin, that the kind folks at MT would regret the free ride they were giving me, hence, us, but I was also sure that the work was going to get done in due time, so that’s the price you pay for professional gonzo journalism.  Anyway, there’s no sense in doing anything unless one does it right and we were well on our way to doing it right.

     At least, that’s what my attorney kept mumbling over Cthulhu Crushes and mescal poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel this morning, something about the stars being right, almost right--right for what?  It was probably the alcohol talking, or perhaps he hadn’t had enough alcohol yet. 

     The hour was young, we had time.

     I was feeling a bit amphibious—in need of something to drink, to keep me in touch with my own humanity, not that I was in any way related to the Great Old Ones that my attorney incessantly rambled on about and so unashamedly called family— interstellar sea-faring folks, he said (whatever that was supposed to mean), and laughed again; strange—an excuse he used to explain his sometimes green appearance.  I could never blame the drugs; they only enhanced the overall tint.  My attorney was singing in some God-awful timbres no human should ever have to fathom; my nerves were doing jumping jacks, the paranoiac adrenaline rush kept me ducking the unseen, the unknown. 

     Our vibrations had amped into overdrive as I screamed for him to pull over; I could not take it any more.  The shub-nigguraths were a nasty drug for the desert and would be worse yet if they lingered into Las Vegas.  

     I stepped out of Big Black Tsathoggua and wandered to the back.  “Pop the trunk,” I said, and my attorney obeyed posthaste.  I catalogued the vast cosmos within, dark stars and darker suns, nectar from Neptune, aether from Aldeberan, acid-crystals from R’lyeh, fungi from Yuggoth, a whole fleet full of nebulous drugs and drink to be ingested during our working vacation, the only way a reasonable person could be expected to make it through something as insidious as the Marilyn Monroe Weekend of Memories spectacle, our reason for this expedition to the far side of sanity.

     It was going to be a long, long weekend.

So, we've started on our trip. Tomorrow I will get the second part up. Friday, the finale. The finale--oh, my! 
You'll just have to wait and see.
This picture is of a Cthulhu Crush, as mentioned above.  Live octopus optional...
(The image is actually by Medvedi Mihail.)

PS. Yeah, let's not forget. My new collection, Autumn in the Abyss, is garnering great reviews and word-of-mouth goodness. Buy a copy and read what all the fuss is about.  Or the non-fuss. Just read it, wouldja? :-P :-) Please and thank you!

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