Monday, October 22, 2018
The Sinister Power of the Alternative Translation of "Vox Terrae." Occasional Beasts: Tales, Story Notes #12
The original title of this tale was "The Alternative Translation." My girlfriend is a translator, so I'm sure I was influenced by that as I wrote the tale. I'm also a fan of words being something more than words. You know this already if you've been paying attention. My novella, the title story of my mini-collection, Autumn in the Abyss, is the best example of this. Another would be my story from the Joseph S. Pulver Sr. edited Walk on the Weird Side anthology, 'Eouem Chumkpaa." Yeah, say that three times fast. So, words, living things, or something else, yes, I dig that idea.
Here's a snippet from the tale that leads you along that line of thinking...
The necessity of this journey wore me down, whittled the bark off the thin branch, though not with the goal of sharpening my perceptions. No, attrition was the goal, shedding the outer shell, shedding to reveal that which lived beneath until all that remained was nothing more than memory; then dust.
At the doorway, I stopped. Candles everywhere, colors richer than ever imagined—pure white heart wrapped in melting blue glass that rippled in the hemorrhaging crimson sun that devoured the room. Blackthorne stood front and center, a dark blemish, details left to my imagination. Not a good thing under the circumstances.
“Language is not simply spoken.” A buzzing—flies hovering over a carcass. “You think your race dictates the rules of this world, of everything? You think you are even the dominant species of this planet? There are many layers. You don’t even know how to cross between them, as my race does, and we are low on the totem pole of this planet’s residents. Language is not simply spoken as you understand it. It is experienced in many different ways.
“Would you like me to show you the alternative translation that Alicia knows so intimately, Kenneth?”
I nodded weakly, the words beyond my tongue, defeated. But I needed to know.
The searing light flickered, then darkness…
This tale might perhaps be perceived as OTT description-wise, but man, it was so much fun to write. Even as some of the sequence that follows the above sample was written years ago. I mentioned "Dandelions" was the oldest tale in the collection, but this tale contains the oldest handful of paragraphs, manipulated into shape to fit the parameters of what this tale needed.
That's how writers sometimes do it, y'know? I had an old tale called, "Unveiling the Hell Machine," in which, not unlike a man opening Barker's Lament Configuration, the narrator ends up in a place where torments beyond his imagination are undertaken. He ends up being devoured then shat out and remolded into something almost human. Aaaand, you're gonna love this--I should find the paper manuscript, because the version I have in a file is incomplete; the typed up version has dates and makes me wonder (wonder what, JC? Well...)--well, in the original, after the person put through hell is shat out, he eventually becomes...President of the United States!!! An evil, malignant president, with designs on annihilation of the world
Fucking hell, I just remembered that was where it all ended up. I really need to pull the box out of the closet and see about the timeline. For all I know, I predicted the current abhorrent and quite dismal state of affairs, to put it mildly.
Anyway, in "Vox Terrae," we hook up with Kenneth as he searches for the alternative translation of the occult tome upon which the story was eventually named (as suggested by publisher Jordan Krall of Dunhams Manor Press, who published the standalone chapbook in which it was featured), with his sights set on finding out the meaning as it pertains to the death by suicide of his girlfriend, who suggested the alternative translation was her modus operandi for killing herself.
Oh, what a dark and sticky web of supernatural oddness I weave.
It gets even weirder as he collects his old friend, who's also into exploring books and ideas that tend toward obtaining forbidden knowledge, Ivan Sangkor--a character based on a person I met while looking over the occult section in a book store...just as I wrote in the story, haha...--and they head to Northern California to speak to Lorraine Blackthorne, the woman responsible for the alternative translation.
All kinds of surreal fun follows, especially within the old house she lives in. A house that never seems settled. A house that also makes a completely different appearance in a tale in final edits I'm presently writing, "Winter in the Wasteland." I don't think that will be the last time I deal with that monstrous house, either.
I've said enough. There's a lot going on here and it's all rather grim when you get down to it, but an entertaining kind of grim, I hope.
"Vox Terrae" can be found in my latest collection, the reason I'm even writing these Story Notes.
You can buy Occasional Beasts: Tales by clicking on Occasional Beasts: Tales because that will take you to the link. So do that and enjoy this tale...and the rest.
Here's a picture of an old grimoire, perhaps a cousin to Vox Terrae...
Next up, the penultimate tale in the collection, which features a guest appearance by...Johnny Depp. Kind of...