Revisiting the King in Yellow

I find writing about short story collections a bit intimidating. I’ll usually write a post here saying that the collection is ok and then quickly forget the stories until I read something else that reminds me of one of them. In some recent posts about short story collections, I have been including a table on the stories with a summary and/or my thoughts. I’m not sure if people are interested in these, but they help me remember.

I recently read Brian McNaughton’s Satan’s Surrogate. It’s not a particularly good book, but it’s full of allusions to other works of weird fiction, including Robert W. Chamber’s The King in Yellow. I read and reviewed that collection a few years ago, and although I knew I had enjoyed it, I couldn’t remember much about it other than the fact that it featured The King in Yellow, a non-existent book that was supposed to drive people mad. I also recalled that it had distinct sections and that only the first section dealt with the really weird stuff. I went back to read my post on it and discovered that I had included summaries on all of the stories in the book except the first four, the really interesting ones. (I also discovered that I had reviewed a second book by Robert W. Chambers that I had entirely forgotten about. I don’t know if I’m going senile or if I’ve just read too many books.)

A few weeks ago, I got sick. I actually vomited for the first time in maybe 20 years. I get a few colds every year, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a tummy bug. I didn’t realise that vomiting actually hurts and that I’m not capable of doing it quietly. Luckily enough, I vomited in the morning, before I had actually eaten anything, so it was just my cup of tea (and a single green bean from the night before) that came back up. Anyways, I was bedbound for a couple of days, and reading Satan’s Surrogate seemed like too much work. I wanted an audiobook, and I realised that I’d easily be able to find an audiobook copy of The King in Yellow. I only bothered with the first four stories, but I really enjoyed revisiting them.

The Repairer of Reputations

This is quite a complicated tale. It’s set in 1925 which was 25 years in the future at the time that it was written. It’s a little dystopian and involves the unveiling of government funded suicide booths, but it’s a horror story at its core. The narrator reads The King in Yellow while recovering from a head injury and ends up involving himself in a murderous conspiracy. His best friend is basically a professional blackmailer, and together they plan to seize control of the world. The plan doesn’t work out.

I read it and reread it, and wept and laughed and trembled with a horror which at times assails me yet. This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men’s thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask. I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth—a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow.

The narrator did suffer a brain injury, but his madness was certainly exacerbated by reading The King in Yellow. Vance, their hitman, also went insane after reading the book. It is not explicitly stated, but it seems to me that Chambers wanted his readers to believe that the legalisation of suicide was somehow influenced by the popularity of the awful tome.

The Mask

Two artists love the same girl. One of the guys reads The King in Yellow and then discovers a way to turn living creatures into statues. It is not explictly stated that his discovery was inspired by his reading. He starts off putting little creatures into his magic potion, but things get messy and the girl that everyone loves ends up in the puddle. I had completely forgotten the previous story, but I remembered what was going to happen at the end of this one quite soon after beginning it. It’s quite good, but The King in Yellow plays a fairly minor role. Characters from the play show up in the narrator’s fever dreams, but he has only ever flipped through its pages, so he ultimately retains his sanity.

 I thought, too, of The King in Yellow wrapt in the fantastic colors of his tattered mantle, and that bitter cry of Cassilda, “Not upon us, oh King, not upon us!” Feverishly I struggled to put it from me, but I saw the lake of Hali, thin and blank, without a ripple or wind to stir it, and I saw the towers of Carcosa behind the moon. Aldebaran, The Hyades, Alar, Hastur, glided through the cloud rifts which fluttered and flapped as they passed like the scolloped tatters of The King in Yellow.

In the Court of the Dragon

A lad gets bored during a church service, and he starts daydreaming about getting chased around town by the grumpy looking church organist. Part of the reason he is attending church is that he recently read The King in Yellow, and he finds the peaceful atmosphere in the church relieving. When he awakes from his daydream, he is transported to Carcosa and confronted by the Yellow King himself.

And now, far away, over leagues of tossing cloud-waves, I saw the moon dripping with spray; and beyond, the towers of Carcosa rose behind the moon.

Death and the awful abode of lost souls, whither my weakness long ago had sent him, had changed him for every other eye but mine. And now I heard his voice, rising, swelling, thundering through the flaring light, and as I fell, the radiance increasing, increasing, poured over me in waves of flame. Then I sank into the depths, and I heard the King in Yellow whispering to my soul: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”

The Yellow Sign

A painter is disturbed by a new watchman that has started working at the church opposite his house. This watchman’s face is so disgustingly ugly that it causes the painter to ruin the picture he is painting. The model who is posing for him falls in love with him, but she is haunted by strange dreams of the painter in a glass coffin. She gives him a strange piece of black jewelry as a gift. When the painter hurts his hands and can’t paint, the model hangs around his house. She finds a copy of The King in Yellow even though the painter did not own a copy because his friend, the narrator of The Repairer of Reputations, had gone mad after reading it. It is never explained how the book got into his house. Maybe the creepy watchman put it there.

I had always refused to listen to any description of it, and indeed, nobody ever ventured to discuss the second part aloud, so I had absolutely no knowledge of what those leaves might reveal. I stared at the poisonous mottled binding as I would at a snake.

Both the painter and his model end up reading the book. Soon thereafter, their dreams come true. The disgusting watchman breaks into their home and tries to steal the onyx clasp. Nobody survives. When the narrator realises what is happening he says,”I knew that the King in Yellow had opened his tattered mantle and there was only God to cry to now.”, but apparently the original text read,

I knew that the King in Yellow had opened his tattered mantle and there was only Christ to cry to now.

Apparently the publisher changed this so it wouldn’t offend Christian readers.

There are other stories in the collection, but none of them deal with The King in Yellow or Carcosa, and I’ve discussed them already. I think The Yellow Sign is probably my favourite out of these 4 stories. All four contain small references to other stories in this collection, but each tale works by itself. The references to The King in Yellow are maddeningly sparse, and you’ll want to read all four of these stories to get all the details. I reckon it’s what Chambers doesn’t say about this strange text that makes it so appealing. From what little he reveals, I have deduced that the play is about a shabbily dressed King who creeps out two Carcosian ladies called Cassilda and Camila.

Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.

Stranger: Indeed?

Cassilda: Indeed it’s time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.

Stranger: I wear no mask.

Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!

The King in Yellow, Act I, Scene 2.

 I thought, too, of the King in Yellow wrapped in the fantastic colours of his tattered mantle, and that bitter cry of Cassilda, “Not upon us, oh King, not upon us!”

I remembered Camilla’s agonized scream and the awful words echoing through the dim streets of Carcosa. They were the last lines in the first act,

What the Hell is that creep up to?

I know I mentioned it before, but there is something embarrassingly exciting about a creepy book that doesn’t exist. One of the characters in Satan’s Surrogate actually attempts to write a play with a similar title, but he isn’t successful. I quite enjoyed rereading these 4 stories by Chambers. Nothing else I’ve read by him comes close to them, but their atmosphere and allusions to the maddening and mysterious Yellow King are enough to ensure that Chambers is remembered as a master of weird fiction.

Brian McNaughton’s Satan Series: Satan’s Love Child, Satan’s Mistress, Satan’s Seductress and Satan’s Surrogate

Don’t deny it. Those covers are one the coolest things you’ve ever seen.

I remember seeing the covers of these books and immediately looking them up to buy them. This would have been 7 or 8 years ago. At that point, there were no copies available for less than 10 dollars, so I decided to wait. I just checked, and the cheapest available copy of Satan’s Surrogate available at the moment is just less than 300 dollars. Thanks a lot Paperbacks From Hell!

Star Edition 1981

Satan’s Love Child (1977)

A reporter for a small town newspaper discovers the horrendously mutilated corpse of a reclusive old man in a town that has recently been overrun by weird, taciturn hippies. Around the same time, the reporter figures out that her husband has been cheating on her, partly because he hates his weird stepdaughter.

As a horror novel, Satan’s Love Child is pretty mediocre. On the plus side, it has plenty of Satanism, a weird monster, a reanimated corpse, and even a few mentions of Yog-Sothoth. Unfortunately, the characters are transparent and don’t really act the way normal people would, even when they’re not under the influence of witchcraft. It’s not perfect, but I enjoyed it.

This was originally published as porn though. The author was initially asked to write a rip off of The Omen and then forced to insert graphic sex scenes before it was published. There’s only 3 or 4 sex scenes, but they’re full on hardcore porn. Honestly, I skimmed through these bits. They don’t add anything important to the book. There is a lengthy anal rape scene towards the end of the book that I wasn’t sure about. Was that bit supposed to be sexy or horrible? It came across as horrible.

Star Edition 1981

Satan’s Mistress (1978)

A dead wizard is reincarnated through incestuous rituals and then attempts to summon the Old Ones discussed in the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft after sexually assaulting some teenagers.

This book is trash, but it’s quite entertaining. I knew it was supposed to be Lovecraftian horror, but I didn’t realise quite how Lovecraftian. Lovecraft plays a similar role here as he does in Robert Bloch’s Strange Eons, not as a mere author of pulp fiction but as a prophet.

Despite the titles, this book has absolutely nothing to do with Satan’s Love Child. While the cover here is equally as sexy as its unrelated predecessor, the gratuitous sex scenes are absent. There is a similar unpleasantness running through the books. McNaughton wasn’t a happy ending kind of guy.

Star Edition 1981, Carlyle Edition 1980

Satan’s Seductress (1979)

Satan’s Seductress is a direct sequel to Satan’s Mistress. Its cast is almost entirely made up of characters who survived Satan’s Mistress. It’s more of the same. The evil wizard and his mistress are searching for the Necronomicon, and they are prepared to do some pretty horrendous stuff to get it.

This is not a great book, but it contains knife-wielding cultists, reanimated corpses, portals to other dimensions and eldritch tomes of forbidden mystery. This is precisely the kind of trash that I want to read after a hard day at work.

Carlyle Edition 1982

Satan’s Surrogate (1982)

While there is not much point in reading Satan’s Seductress if you haven’t read Satan’s Mistress, Satan’s Surrogate, like Satan’s Love Child is entirely separate, standalone novel. The plot has similarities with Mistress, and it’s similar in tone to the other books, but it’s far more complicated. Honestly, I found it a little disappointing. The story is too busy. There’s a lot of characters, and they’re largely uninteresting. There’s also a lot of plot elements, probably too much really. It has vampirism, wizards, alternate dimensions, cannibalism and references to Robert W. Chambers, Arthur Machen and H.P. Lovecraft, but it has a weird folklore thing running through it too. It wasn’t a total pain to read, but I never looked forward to sitting down with at night. This is particularly disappointing, as I paid more for my copy of this book than I did for any of the others mentioned here. As far as I know there was only one edition published under this title, so this is is the hardest to find of the Satan series.

I realise that I said very little about the plots of these books. That’s not laziness. There’s really not very much to say. These books are trash. The reason they are hard to find is because they look so damn cool.

The first editions of Satan’s Love Child, Satan’s Mistress and Satan’s Seductress all had the same face on them.

The sexy covers pictured at the top of the post appeared on the Star editions between 1980 and 1981. Satan’s Surrogate came out in 1982, and it never got a sexy cover. When it came out, it seems that Carlyle put out new editions of the earlier books with new covers. I have not been able to find an image of the cover of Satan’s Love Child from this run. I am not sure it even exists. That book is more pornographic than the others, so it might have been left out. Then again, the other books are numbered, so it seems unlikely that they left out #1.

If anyone has a copy of the Satan’s Love Child from this run, please scan it and let me see!

All editions of these books are pretty scarce at this point, but the sexy Star ones are the hardest to find. Fortunately, Wildside rereleased the original texts with their original names in the early 2000s. These are all available as ebooks on amazon for a few dollars. The first book in the series won’t include the gratuitous sex, but I doubt that will affect anyone’s enjoyment much. I thought about getting the new (actually old) editions too and comparing the texts to the Satan versions, but the books aren’t actually good enough to warrant doing that.

  • Satan’s Love Child is now Gemini Rising 
  • Satan’s Mistress is now Downward to Darkness 
  • Satan’s Seductress is now Worse Things Waiting 
  • Satan’s Surrogate is now The House Across the Way 

Honestly, these books are alright, but you’ll probably never end up with the full collection. Get the ebooks and save your money. Getting my hands on the full set of Star editions took more time than it did money, but they have only become scarcer since then. I have copies of a few of McNaughton’s short story collections too. I may get to them at some stage, but I’m in no rush.

Which of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lector books are worth reading?

I was very young when I found out who Hannibal lector was. I had heard that The Silence of the Lambs was the ultimate sicko film. I remember staring at the vhs box in the video shop after mass when I was kid, wondering what the butterfly had to do with lambs. I asked my very Catholic parents, and while they wouldn’t give any details about the sexual-pervert, Buffalo Bill, they didn’t have a problem telling me all about the cannibalistic doctor. I would have been in my early teens when I finally saw it, and I spent the next 10 years quoting it to my friends. It’s one of my favourite movies..

About a year ago, I started reading a bunch of books that have been made into movies. These were just comfort reading, nothing to do with this blog, but then I realised that I should read The Silence of the Lambs and the other Hannibal Lector books.

I read Red Dragon (1981) last May, and I loved every page of it. I honestly can’t think of another book that sucked me in as much as this one. I had seen the movie version once when I was a teenager, but I didn’t remember much of it. Francis Dolarhyde is perhaps the creepiest character in any of Harris’s novels. This book was absolutely brilliant.

The Silence of Lambs (1988) was also excellent, but I was so familiar with the film version that it didn’t seem quite as tense as Red Dragon. I find it hard to imagine somebody reading my blog who hasn’t seen the movie, but if you’re in that position read the book first. (The movie version is obviously excellent too.)

It seems like common knowledge that Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs are masterpieces of suspense. Opinions on Hannibal (1999), the third book in the series, are more varied. It’s a bit more gory, and the ending is contraversial. I was warned by a pal to avoid it completely. I didn’t, and I actually quite enjoyed it, but it’s definitely not as good as its predecessors. The titular character doesn’t show up until a quarter of the way through the book, and he plays a very different role here than he does in the first two books. Before he shows up, the reader is introduced to Mason Verger, a mutilated child-rapist with a whole bunch of money and power. What follows is a bit of a Varney the Vampire situation in which the original bad guy turns into the hero. I suppose Hannibal isn’t really the antagonist in either Red Dragon or The Silence of the Lambs, but he is definitely very, very bad. In Hannibal, we’re completely rooting for him.

The ending is silly. It’s not believable. I think the ending to the movie version was a far better idea.

If you’ve read and enjoyed Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, I’d say you will probably enjoy Hannibal. It’s not as good as those books, but it’s still quite entertaining.

While opinions on Hannibal were varied, it seemed that Hannibal Rising (2006), the fourth and final entry in the series, was universally hated. Harris supposedly only wrote it because Dino De Laurentis wanted to make a prequel movie and threatened to get somebody else to write it when Harris refused. I was warned to avoid this one, but I’m not a quitter.

Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. It’s over 300 pages long, and I finished it in 2 days. I found teenage Hannibal hunting down the Nazis who ate his baby sister enjoyable. It’s a prequel, so there’s no chance of any big surprises, and it doesn’t come close to the suspense of the first two books. Also, it humanizes Hannibal too much. He’s very clearly the good guy here. All that aside, this is still an entertaining thriller. I was never bored. It felt a bit like fan-fiction written by the original author.

Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs are as popular as they are for a reason. They are two of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. They’re deeply unsettling and hugely exciting. If you haven’t already, I command you to read them. Hannibal and Hannibal Rising are not as good, probably even unnecessary. In saying that, I still had a good time reading them.

“Hannibal the Cannibal” though? I only thought about this on the way home from work the other day, but that is the cheesiest name for a villain imaginable. Realistically, what are the chances that a person named Hannibal would actually end up as a devourer of human flesh?

Maggoty Bodily Fluid Soup: Michael Green’s The Jim-Jams

The Jim-Jams – Michael Green

Pocket – 1994

As soon as I heard of this rare, disgusting work of cosmic-horror, it jumped straight to the top of my to-read list..

Blue Turtle Island is an isolated holiday resort for old people. The small team of staff working there are in for a rough weekend. Not only has a gang of thugs sailed over with plans to mug the visitors, but there’s a weird… thing in the woods, and it’s having some rather strange effects on the creatures that come into contact with it.

It feel from the sky, and it seems to mess with the DNA of all lifeforms who encounter it, altering their physical structure and behaviour. Insects and small animals seem to morph into each other, and people get really messy. There’s lots of swelling, tumours, fluids, new orifices and more. Oh and there’s bugs in everything.

A plot centering on a bunch of old people is novel, but the real fun of this book lies in it’s relentlessness. It’s really gross. Think of all the horrible things that can happen to a human body, and then imagine most of them happening at once to the same body while that body is being infested with worms and spiders. There’s no great build-up here either. Things get gooey early on, and they never dry up.

There’s weird references to other horror writers in here. Different bugs are referred to as koontzes, bradburys and straubs. One character is called Farris too. Also, there is a direct reference to another horror author that had me laughing. One of the characters sees a mutated freak and assumes it’s an alien.”Feeling almost faint with excitement, Lana strove to keep in mind the courageous example of Whitley Strieber, a man she admired more than any other, an ambassador for all humankind who endured so many hardships during his encounters with Visitors from other worlds.”

The Jim-Jams reminded me of Edward Lee’s Slither. That one was also about people trapped on an island with gross mutating bugs. Both are very silly novels, but there’s enough self awareness and plot to keep them enjoyable. If you like Edward Lee, give The Jim-Jams a read.

This book has been out of print for almost 20 years, and it’s almost impossible to find. There’s no copies for sale online right now. I read it online at the Internet Archive, one of the greatest resources on the internet for people with an interest in books. The Internet Archive is currently in a legal battle with the biggest publishers in the world. You can show your support for libraries here.

The Sandwich – A Romance

I haven’t posted any of my own fiction for a few years. Here’s something I wrote a while back. It’s a little bit disgusting. I hope you enjoy it.

The Sandwich

Pascal Smith found himself in the position most dreaded by 16 year old boys. He had been caught wanking. His mother, assuming that Pascal was studying, had opened his bedroom door to deliver a basket of clean laundry only to find her son abusing himself, his mickey in one hand, a wad of toilet paper in the other. She fled in embarrassment and bumped into her husband on the way down the stairs. They later discussed the event between themselves and determined that any and all steps to prevent Pascal from befouling himself again ought to be taken.

There wasn’t very much they could do. Pascal was briefly chastised by his stepfather and his room was searched for pornography, but other than this, the only consequence was a new rule prohibiting Pascal from keeping any toilet paper in his bedroom. If he needed to blow his nose, he could do so in the bathroom.

Although Pascal was mortified by the experience, he was 16 years old, and while he managed to keep his hands out of his pants for the rest of the day, by the next evening he was back at it. He contemplated sending his wet little parcel out the window, but he was afraid his neighbours would see. He ended up using a sock. While it might seem more appropriate to further dirty a soiled sock, Pascal opted instead for a clean one. His mother collected his laundry weekly, and any cumstains in a sock would be less noticeable if it had since been worn. 

He became more careful about masturbation. He’d make sure the coast was clear before beginning, and if he heard even the slightest creak from outside his room he’d zip himself up. It was a good thing too because, despite her initial embarrassment, his mother had become no less likely to barge in without knocking. In fact her doing so is largely to blame for the curious events that later occurred.

Pascal was really drawing one out. He had heard from a mate that a wank would last longer if he’d occasionally tug on his bollocks. Doing so felt awful, but it did seem to be having the desired effect. Pascal was approaching his climax when he heard his mother’s gentle foot upon the stair. He shoved himself back in his pants, threw the sock into his laundry basket and swiveled his chair towards his desk so it looked like he was reading. He was so efficient that he had a good 5 seconds to spare before his mother entered the room.

“Your father won’t be back until 6, so we’re having dinner late. I made you a snack, just a couple of slices of bread and butter.”

“Thanks mom.” he replied, annoyed that she was referring to his stepdad as his father but also reluctant to say anything that would cause her to stay longer.

She took a look at the books on his desk and gave him a smile as she laid the plate next to his notebook.

“Alright sweety. I’ll just take your laundry and let you study.”

As she was crossing the room, Pascal briefly worried she would notice the obviously clean sock on top of his dirty clothes, but before she had gotten to it, he realised that this wouldn’t prove anything. He took a measured breath and waited for her to leave. 

This interruption had lasted less than a minute, and Pascal was still very much in the mood to finish what he had started. It took him seconds to get back to full speed, and it wasn’t until almost the moment of orgasm that he realised he had not replaced his cum-sock. He gave his sack a sharp tug, and although it made him wince in pain, it did nothing to slow things down. No, this was happening no matter what. He glanced at his desk. There were two potential receptacles, his library book, a biography of Hitler he was using for a school project, or his buttered bread.

He grabbed a slice and managed to jam it down on top of his nob just in time. The greasy texture wasn’t something he was used to, but it certainly wasn’t bad. Pascal came like a bastard. 

Moments later, he was feeling very conflicted. He had just experienced perhaps the greatest orgasm of his life, but now he felt like a butter-dicked pervert and his snacky-poo was ruined. He certainly couldn’t eat it anymore, and he wasn’t sure how he could get rid of it without causing suspicion. 

He thought about this for a while and then realised he had only ruined one of his two slices. “In for a penny, in for a pound”, he thought as he geared up to ruin the second slice. Doing so took him only 3 minutes, no sack pulling involved.

As enjoyable as they were, Pascal knew that these were small, single-use slices. He wasn’t going to get another go out of them, and he didn’t want to make a habit of this. His balls were drained, and he was thinking clearly now, but he couldn’t figure out a palatable way to get rid of the evidence. He ended up smoothing out the slices as best he could and then placing one on top of the other, wet sides inwards. He put this repulsive sandwich into the drawer of his desk and lay down to have a nap. He would deal with the removal later.

He forgot the sandwich was there until bedtime, when it was too late to do anything, so he again put it off. The next day he had piano lessons after school and genuinely forgot. When he got home the day after, he noticed a funny smell in his room.

There were  a few black spots on the sandwich. It was mouldy. Although he was home alone for an hour after school and could have used this time to throw it out, Pascal didn’t. He felt a bizarre mixture of shame and pride. He knew he was a sandwich-fucking degenerate, but he also liked the idea that something that came from his own body was helping to create new life. He moved the plate and its contents to his wardrobe and placed them behind a stack of board games.

The next few days were unremarkable. Pascal would take a peek every now and then, and although he was masturbating regularly, he refrained from interfering with the sandwich again. It wasn’t until the weekend that he noticed anything truly odd.

He woke up on Saturday night after hearing a soft groaning noise coming from his closet. Assuming that some small rodent had been at his sandwich and poisoned itself, Pascal picked up his cricket bat and approached the wardrobe. He put his ear to the door to listen for scuttling but heard none. He lifted the bat in preparation to strike and quickly threw the door open, but nothing moved or scurried out.


There it was again, the noise that woke him. Clearer this time, it was coming from directly in front of Pascal’s eyes, but it was dark and he couldn’t see much of anything. Confused and quite afraid, Pascal turned on the light and returned to the wardrobe. He bent over, hovering his face just inches from the putrid sandwich, looking for an intruder and considering how best to get this mess out of his room when the noise came again. This time he was certain. It was coming directly from the sandwich. He knew this because he had seen a ripple of movement along with the sound. Perhaps some baby mouse had engorged itself on rancid butter and cold cum and was now too bloated to escape from the inside of the beastly butty. Pascal nudged the bread with the tip of his cricket bat, and it responded with a soft moan.


No, this didn’t look like there was a creature inside the sandwich. It looked like the sandwich itself was groaning. The furry gray crusts were quivering open and shut, and a repulsive susurration was uttering forth.

Pascal stumbled backwards, shutting the closet door in the process. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that he was afraid, but he was disturbed. His vision of reality did not include meals that could groan. Part of his brain told him to ignore it and go back to bed, and the rest of his brain was easily convinced. This would be best dealt with in the morning when he could be sure that he was entirely awake.

When he awoke the next morning, he went straight downstairs and had breakfast. After using the bathroom, he came back to his room and went straight to the closet, feeling more and more certain that his experience during the night had been a dream or hallucination. He picked up the plate holding the sandwich and brought it level to his eyes. After peering at it for a good 20 seconds, he felt entirely sure that whatever had happened the night before had largely occurred in his imagination. Although the sandwich no longer seemed disturbing, the patterns of sporangium spreading on its surface drew Pascal’s attention, and it was as he was examining these that it happened again.


Pascal froze. This was no dream. The moldy bread sounded like it was vocalising. He set the plate down on his desk, opened his window and sat down on his bed. This was really happening. An uneaten meal had somehow become alive. This freak occurrence in a teenage boy’s bedroom could potentially change everything that scientists understood about evolution. Pascal thought about this, and for this very reason knew that he could never tell another soul. If any scientist got their hands on his sandwich, they would quickly find out what had been the life-giving catalyst. No, this wonder of nature was for Pascal’s eyes only.

Pascal understood enough about biology to know that all life needs food to sustain itself, and that the mold on the sandwich was actually eating away at the bread and its contents. If he wanted his creation to live, he would need to feed it. He walked down to the kitchen and opened the fridge. As he stared at its contents, he wondered what kind of food a sandwich would most like to eat. He discreetly grabbed a slice of ham and returned to his room, rolling the meat into a salty cylinder as he ascended the stairs.

As he brought the slice of ham towards the sandwich, its rotting lips parted, and Pascal did his best to slide it in without having to touch the bread. This proved impossible, but Pascal was surprised to find that the sandwich had acquired a warm rubbery texture, and it left no observable residue on his fingers afterwards. Once he had fed the slice of ham about halfway in, he experienced a soft tugging sensation coming from inside the sandwich. Although he was warming to the idea of having a pet sandwich, the sensation of it moving was too much for him, and he placed the whole thing back in the closet and left his room.

On returning, he saw that the mold had spread rapidly, and even the half inch of rolled ham that was sticking out of the bread was fungified. He couldn’t tell for certain, but it seemed as though the sandwich was aware of his proximity as it started to groan as he neared. Although his recent experiences had left him feeling confused at several points, the first time he felt actual revulsion was when he saw the protruding, mold-sealed roll of lunch meat flapping up and down like a hideously limp and dislocated tongue. 


No. That had to have been his imagination. He could accept the notion that the process of decomposition might produce sounds. Chemical reactions could produce gas that could squeak as it was released, but this sounded like syllables. Surely it wasn’t possible that a festering sandwich could speak.


The pronunciation was way off, but Pascal’s gut told him it was calling his name.

It didn’t stop. For the rest of the day and the following night, the sandwich would gurgle whenever Pascal came close to it. He was torn over what to do. The sandwich was both an abomination and a miracle, and he hadn’t the heart to throw it out or show it to anyone else. He spent most of the weekend staring at it.

By Sunday evening, he thought that it looked a little worse for wear. It had been a rotten sandwich for its entire life, but it was really haggard now. The ham he had fed it had transmogrified into a tongue instead of providing it with sustenance. He had tried to feed it small spoonfuls of peanut butter, but it wasn’t interested, and its grumblings had now turned to desperate, soft moans that tugged on Pascal’s heartstrings. Don’t forget that he had given it life, and he was starting to feel like a parent watching their child waste away. 

Suddenly he knew what to do. He ran downstairs and rummaged through the pile of magazines on the sitting-room coffee table until he found the Sears catalogue. He snuck it back to his room and got to work. He had been so preoccupied with his new pet that he hadn’t had a wank since Friday, so it didn’t take long. Seconds before reaching his climax, he moved in towards the sandwich, pointing his glans at its dry gray lips. Sensing that sweet nourishment was close, the sandwich opened its mouth like a very weak, yet very eager baby bird. Pascal’s eyes rolled back as the first spurt of cum blew out of his dirty knob. Through waves of ecstasy, he could hear a repulsive gobbling. As he shook his dick at the sandwich, flicking the last few drops over it like an aspergillum wielding priest, he noticed that it already looked rejuvenated. He could sense its happiness, and this made him feel good too.

He went to bed that night feeling rather pensive. The sandwich, while no less rotten than before, was somehow looking stronger after 3 hearty meals. It seemed to be in a better mood, and this filled Pascal with optimism.  The strangeness of having a freak of nature living in his bedroom had taken a backseat in Pascal’s troubled teenage mind. He was more concerned now with his relationship with the sandwich. Was he its father or its lover? Pascal was an unpopular virgin, and never in his wildest wank fantasies had he thought he’d end up with a pal with an insatiable lust for his cum. It wasn’t his ideal girlfriend, but it was better than anything he’d had before.

The next two weeks were busy but fulfilling. Pascal fed his pet several times each day and started changing its plate after he noticed that it was actually discharging small gray pellets from the side opposite its mouth. It had somehow formed a simple digestive system, and although it was a rotting luncheon Pascal could not bear to see it wallowing in its own waste.

He also managed to train it to communicate. It didn’t have lips or teeth, and it would be a stretch to say it could speak, but it learned to make different sounds that corresponded to its different needs. A two syllabled “Beeughleeughl” was its cry for attention. To anyone else, this would have sounded like a choking geriatric, but to Pascal it sounded like his name. “eeeeeeagh” was how it called for food. It made an aggressive grunting noise when it was didn’t like something. Most surprising of all was its “peeeeugh” noise for when it had passed waste and wanted Pascal to change its plate.

As his caring bond with the sandwich strengthened, so too did their sexual relationship. Pascal no longer jerked off into its mouth. Now he was quite content to let it blow him. He grew to love the sensation of its slimy tongue working its way under his foreskin. It got to a point where he was no longer fantasizing about girls when he was with the sandwich. It was her he wanted now. If he ever masturbated without it (which he didn’t) he would have fantasized about her decaying bread flaps. After a while, he even built up enough confidence to try putting his dick in the sandwich’s ass to spice things up. She didn’t like it at first and she groaned and complained, but Pascal found her more receptive if he fingered her rear open while he was fucking her mouth. It was still a tight squeeze, but they both enjoyed the novelty of it. He’d always take it out of her shitter and put it back in her mouth before he came though. He knew that sex was more than just fun for her. It provided her sustenance.

Months passed, and their love grew. Pascal withdrew from his small circle of friends and spent more and more time in his bedroom, making sweet, dirty love to his vile cum-sandwich. One morning, after serving up a hot breakfast bukakke , Pascal lay on his bed with the sandwich in the crook of his arm. Pascal asked his lover what she wanted from life. “Weeughlweeughl eeeeeeagh”
“You want to eat? But I just fed you. You’ll have to wait a few minutes.”

“Hnnnnnnghh! Weeughlmeeughl eeeeeeagh. Beeughlweeughl eeeeafh!”

Parents are able to understand the speech of their children before anyone else, and at this moment, Pascal understood his baby perfectly. She wasn’t saying that she wanted to eat. She was saying that she wanted Pascal to eat her.
“No! I couldn’t do that. I love you!”

“Weeughlweeughl eeeeeeagh. Weeughlweeughl eeeeeeagh!” Her groans became manic. She had never been refused anything before, and she was panicking. Unable to see his love in this state, Pascal picked up her and bit off a small green morsel from her crust. He started to wretch as soon as the fungused bread turned to salty powder in his mouth, but he somehow managed to swallow it down. Still the sandwich shrieked. EAT! EAT EAT!

 Pascal couldn’t handle the situation. He put her back on her plate and ran downstairs. He loved the sandwich, and he didn’t want to imagine not having her in his life, but he had heard the desperation in her voice, and it hurt him to think of her not getting what she wanted. She was a sandwich after all, and it made sense that a sandwich would want to be eaten. He didn’t come back to her until the next evening, and when he did, he picked her up, brought her inches from his face and said “I will give you what you want, but not just yet. Let me love you one more time.” Then he fucked her gently, cherishing the feel of her decaying hide as he pumped into her putrid maw. When he was sure she had climaxed and felt that he was close to orgasm himself, he brought her to his mouth and kissed her, his tongue passionately wrestling with her animated flap of gray meat. “I’ll love you forever.”

Although he had been pumping it with cum, the sandwich had shrunk considerably since its birth, and Pascal was able to fit the whole thing in his mouth. As he chewed and his mouth attempted to dilute the repulsive flavour with a flood of hot saliva, Pascal fought to keep his gorge from rising. To avoid the thought of regurgitation, he focused on the pleasure building in his phallus. This was real love. This was romance. He was viciously jerking his cock, but as he chewed he could feel parts of the sandwich’s innards actually pumping inside his mouth, and all he could do to avoid wretching was to increase the sensations elsewhere. With his free hand, he began fingering his own rotten ass. It hurt, but it took his mind off the taste, and it reminded him of other intimate moments with his lover. As he prepared to swallow, he felt his oncoming climax building. His lover’s body was becoming one with his own. As he stood in his room with his cock in his hand, his fingers up his arse and his decaying lover in his mouth, Pascal Smith achieved the momentary state of unity with all existence that only the most powerful orgasm can deliver.

When he recovered from his staggering climax, Pascal reached out for a clean sock to wipe the cum from his belly, but he stopped short. His first dalliance was over, but it had changed him. With a stooping gait and a wet tummy, he shuffled down to the kitchen…

The Travelling Grave and Other Stories – L.P. Hartley

The Travelling Grave and Other Stories by L.P. Hartley

Valacourt Books – 2017
This book was first published by Arkham House in 1947, but many of the stories were published years before that. In truth, I found it very boring. It’s mostly ghost stories, but none of them are particularly scary. The writing is quite dense at times too, and it usually didn’t feel worth the effort. It’s less than 250 pages, but it took me more than 4 months to get through it.

Here’s what I remember about the stories:

StoryMy thoughts (includes spoilers)
A Visitor from Down UnderA lad listens to weird kids’ games on the radio and a ghost comes from Australia to get him. Shit and confusing.
PodoloA creepy island. Somebody tries to kill a kitten? Maybe it’s a werewolf or something. I forget.
Three, or Four, for DinnerSome lads arrange to meet another lad, but he dies. Shows up to dinner anyway. Supposed to be droll?
The Travelling GraveA lad collects coffins. One can bury itself and does when a person is in it.
Feet ForemostA ghost can’t come into the house because there is a step or something. Not scary at all.
The CotillonA lad kills himself, but he goes dancing afterwards.
A Change of OwnershipA truly idiotic man gets upset because he was too much of a wuss to invite his boyfriend in for some sex, so he has a nervous breakdown instead and imagines he is a ghost or something.
The ThoughtA lad goes for a walk and gets confused. This went so far above my head. Hated it.
Conrad and the DragonPredictable fantasy story. Maybe for kids.
The IslandA lad gets caught by his girlfriend’s husband. At least one of them is dead.
Night FearsA lad gets scared while working the night shift. Short.
The Killing BottleA lad gets mixed up with another chap who murders people who hurt animals. Then the other chap kills his own brother. Who knows what becomes of the dipstick protagonist?
A lot of lads.

I have nothing else to say about this book.

This is probably a poor time to mention this, as the above review is hardly riveting reading, but I have noticed a dramatic drop in traffic to this blog recently. Google updated its algorithm on the 15th of last month, and it seems to have worked against me. I’m seeing roughly half of what I had been seeing for the last 3 years. This is quite frustrating, as (with the exception of the above post) the content on here has been pretty good recently. I have glanced through a few pages explaining search engine optimization, but the thoughts of spending hours trying to make sure my posts are tagged and titled appropriately seems horrendously boring. I’d far prefer to spend my time reading a weird book. I’ll probably update the layout in the near future to make the 400+ posts on here easier to sift through, but until then, do me a favour and share this blog with your friends.

Sex, Satanism and Cannibal Freaks: Mark Mirabello’s The Cannibal Within

The Cannibal Within – Mark Mirabello

Mandrake of Oxford – 2005 (first published 2001)

A friend recommended this to me a few weeks back. I found an ebook version online, but after reading the fourth paragraph, I ordered a physical copy. This is one I knew I’d want on my shelf.

We may think we are special – holy, honoured, valued – god’s chosen primates – but that is a fraud. The dupes of superhuman forces, we are misfits and abominations. We have no higher purpose – no saviour god died for our sins – we exist, only because our masters are infatuated with our meat.

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Mirabello is an academic. He has a Ph.D, and he has lectured at different universities. His fields of research are fairly wacky, but I have no reason to belief that his research itself is questionable. He has appeared on some ridiculous documentaries and talk shows about aliens and conspiracies. Having an education doesn’t necessarily make a person a good writer, but Mirabello’s credentials, along with what I knew of this book, made it seem very, very intriguing.

The narrative in The Cannibal Within is framed as a memoir that was presented to the author due to his academic standing. A crazy lady walks into his office and gives him a document describing her bizarre experiences. She was abducted by cannibalistic trans-humans after her and her friend performed a Satanic ritual. The unholy freaks eat her friend and then kidnap the protagonist and lock her in a cage in their underground layer for decades. They do really bad stuff to her, but she takes it rather philosophically. While recounting the utterly horrendous abuses she suffered, she quotes from and/or discusses the work of Yukio Mishima, Friedrich Neitzsche, Plato, Aleister Crowley, H.P. Lovecraft, De Sade, Goethe, George Bataille, Octave Mirbeau and Philip K. Dick.

Oh, and there’s a big part at the end of the book that talks about how the trans-humans evolved from brain eating cannibal monkeys. This sounded very familiar to me, and it was immediately followed by a quote from The Beginning Was the End, my favourite book. Hell yes.

Also, the Satanic ritual that kicks things off is supposedly taken from the Red Book of Appin. Anyone remember my post on that mysterious grimoire?

If you’re not familiar with this blog and/my reading proclivities, let it suffice to say that I have an interest in the above authors and texts. I felt very much that Mirabello had somebody like me in mind when he was writing this book. I can’t really say that it’s a brilliant book, but I also can’t pretend that I didn’t enjoy every page. I finished it in an afternoon. I really found it hard to put it down.

Who could resist?

When the book isn’t discussing the absurdity of life, it’s shoving giant mutoid cocks down your throat. There’s an awful lot of rape, in here, and the pricks doing the raping are all hilariously large. One of them is described as an “enormous fascist rod”. LOL.

Objectively, The Cannibal Within fails as a novel. It sets the scene, but doesn’t really go anywhere. The ending of the book felt like the point at which a team of marines, armed to the teeth, should have been entering the freaks’ burrow, Aliens style. I don’t need (or want) a happy ending, but I would have liked a bit more conflict. I suppose it would have taken a lot of effort to ramp up the gross-out sequences as a plot developed, but it would take that kind of commitment to make this a real masterpiece.

Mirabello, if you’re reading this, please write a sequel, a long one.

The Cannibal Within is splatterpunk for grad students. If you’re a misanthropic book-nerd with a penchant for the disgusting (and you probably are if you’re reading this blog) you will likely get a kick out of this horrid book. Honestly, I doubt anyone else will get past the first few pages.

The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror- William Sloane

The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror – William Sloane

NYRB Classics – 2015 (originally published as a collection in 1964)

This week’s book is The Rim of Morning by William Sloane. It contains To Walk the Night (1937) and The Edge of Running Water (1939), Sloane’s only novels. Both books went through several editions in the 50 years after they were published, and some of the covers are awesome, but other blogs have done posts about that, and I have nothing to add. The books were out of print for the 90s and early 2000s, but NYRB put out this collection with a new introduction a few years ago.

To Walk the Night

Two lads witness a scientist spontaneously combusting, and then one of them marries the scientists widow. She is a babe, but she’s also a real weirdo. This puts strain on the lads’ friendship.

Stephen King wrote the introduction to The Rim of Mourning. From what I know about his tastes, I’m not surprised King liked this book. It reads like a combination of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Leiber’s Conjure Wife. It walks that line between sci-fi and horror nicely, and I really got into it after a few chapters. It’s suspenseful and very easy to read.

I found the ending a little underwhelming. The way the story is set up ensures no real surprises, but the explanation given (or at least hinted at) felt a bit flat. It was still enjoyable enough.

The Edge of Running Water

The second novel starts off fairly similar to the first. A lad goes to his friend’s house to help him with an experiment. When he gets there, he finds there are two women living in the house too. One is his friend’s sexy sister in law, and the other is a really annoying person who is helping with the experiment.

The nature of the experiment is not immediately discussed, but it involves a machine that makes a really upsetting noise. It turns out that the lad was trying to build a machine to let him talk to his dead wife, but he ends up making something much, much worse.

I quite enjoyed this book, but it’s very slow. The whole thing occurs over the period of 3 days or so, and I’m sure big chunks could have been cut. I enjoyed the brooding atmosphere though, and I found this one a bit creepier than To Walk the Night.

The supernatural elements of both books are not explicitly defined, and I think this is why these books get categorised as “cosmic horror”. They’re good. You should read them.

The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson

The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson

Prentice Hall – 1977

Despite what it says on the cover, this book is definitely not “a true story”.

The Lutz family move into a new house right before Christmas. The kids are disappointed by their presents, the stepdad feels chilly, the dog pukes, the mom has some sex dreams about a man who isn’t her husband, there’s a reek of human shit in the basement, and the parents beat their kids with a strap. Oh, and some weird stuff happens too.

The family hear some creepy voices, see an evil talking pig, and get covered in green slime.

Honestly, I quite enjoyed the first few chapters. There was a part where the little girl asks her mommy if angels can talk that genuinely creeped me out. Unfortunately, things get silly pretty quickly. Once the mom started levitating I lost interest and the book became a chore to read. So many haunted house clichés are present here that it’s very difficult to take seriously. (Some of these clichés likely originated in this book, but that doesn’t make them easier to accept.) This is absolutely not non-fiction.

One of the most confusing features of this book is the character of Father Mancuso. He’s a Catholic priest who visits the Lutz family right after they move in so that he can bless their home. A spirit tells him to GTFO, and he runs away. The rest of the narrative goes back and forth between what’s happening to him and the Lutz family, and I was expecting him to make a grand return to help the family out during the climax of the book. He doesn’t though. He just shits out his bathroom so badly that he has to leave his house for several days and then picks some scabs on his hands. I’m not even exaggerating. It’s suggested that these events were caused by the evil entity in the Amityville house, but the book is set during flu season, and it seems absurd to suggest that an man getting a bad dose of the trots in January has anything to do with ghosts. Honestly, he craps out the shitter so bad that his neighbours complain. Dirty old fucker with a stinking asshole. I read online that he was kicked out of the priesthood after the book’s publication, but I couldn’t find out why. It likely had something to do with his repulsively reeking shitter.

There’s a whole slew of other books about the Amityville house and the Lutz family, but some are presented as fiction based on the truth, some are non-fiction that examines the fiction, and some are presented as nothing but fiction. (There’s also novelisations of movies that don’t seem to be involved in the literary canon of the Amityville mythos.) I’d be interested in looking at some of them just to see how they go between fiction/non-fiction, but three of the key Amityville texts were written by Hans Holzer. I read two books by Hans Holzer during my first year of keeping this blog. Gothic Ghosts and Elvis Presley Speaks are two of the worst books I have ever read, and I don’t want to read anything else by Holzer. (Do yourself a favour and go back and read my reviews of those books. Pure quality.) No. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be wasting my time on Amityville.

I just noticed that tomorrow marks 8 years since my first post here on Nocturnal Revelries. I must be getting close to 600 books reviewed. I didn’t expect the blog to last this long. You may not have noticed, but since the beginning of this year, I have been deliberately alternating between fiction and “non-fiction”. I had been avoiding non-fiction for a few years, but I’m enjoying get back into it. I actually feel happier with the blog recently than I have in quite a while. Here’s to another 8 years. Hope you’ve been enjoying it!

Elizabeth Massie’s Sineater

Sineater – Elizabeth Massie

Carroll & Graf – 1994 (Originally published 1992)

Avery Barker is a sineater, a man who ritually cleanses dead bodies of sin by eating a meal off their chest. He lives just outside of Beacon Cove, a small, extremely religious community in the mountains of Virginia. The service he offers is extremely important to this community, but it also renders him and his family as outcasts. The rest of the community believe that just looking at the sineater would be enough to kill a person. Unfortunately for everyone, Missy Campbell, the religious leader of the community, has gotten it into her head that the sineater has consumed too much sin and gone mad. Very bad things start happening, and it’s unclear as to who’s responsible.

The story centers around Joel, Avery’s youngest son and the only Barker to attend school. To make things complicated, he becomes friendly with Missy’s nephew, Burke. Joel is such a sympathetic character that I spent the whole book dreading that something bad would happen to him. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that this book isn’t going to end happily.

I really enjoyed Sineater. It’s dark, and parts of it are very gross, but the story is good, and the characters are fun.

Apparently sineaters were a real thing in parts of Britain. I don’t think they were ever shunned to the extent that Avery is in this book though.

Afraid: Tidbits of the Macabre
Crossroads Press – 2011

I read Massie’s collection Afraid: Tidbits of the Macabre a few months ago. I didn’t write anything down about it after reading it, but I remember quite a few stories about people locked in basements. It also had a weird story about a body part, I honestly can’t remember which, vacating its body. Cool. I enjoyed the collection well enough to want to read more of Massie’s work. Sineater was even better, and I plan to read more of her books in the future.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth Massie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma last year. It seems that she is recovering, but she lives in one of those countries where people have to pay for medical care. There is a gofundme page set up where people can donate to help with her medical costs. Help out if you can.