Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Through Haunted Glasses, Darkly

How wonderful that THRILLER episodes are now on YouTube--but I wonder if they will stay there or be removed due to copyright matters.  I spent this morning watching "The Cheaters," based on a weird tale by Robert Bloch.  I've gone through a wee spell of writing sequels to some Bloch stories.  I had been obsessed, for decades, about writing a sequel to "The Skull of the Marquee de Sade," and even mentioned it to Bob.  I simply never found my way into telling my tale, until finally the idea came to me and I wrote it for the marvelous anthology, Dead But Dreaming 2 (Miskatonic River Press, 2011).

I had the idea of writing a sequel to "The Cheaters," when I began work on my collection of Tales of Nyarlathotep, The Strange Dark One (to be publish'd next month by Miskatonic River Press, each tale illustrated by Jeffrey Thomas).  The story was influenced as much by the Thriller episode as it was by Bloch's original story.  I have always been strangely captivated by the beginning and ending of that televised episode.  I loved the idea of the sorcerer working in his hidden lair, his antique desk with its secret drawer, and the fate of an author at ye tale's climax.  Thus my story opens with Sebastian Grimm about to blow his brains out while wearing the spectral spectacles.

"Grimm glanced down at the last page of his manuscript and saw its final word: finis.  Yes, this was the end.  A chill ran down his spine as he reached for the revolver that sat upon the desk, the metal of which was so horribly frigid to the touch.  His fingers raised the tip of the barrel to one of the lenses as the author sought the courage needed to pull the trigger.

"'That won't be required, Grimm,' spoke a soft voice near his ear.  A large hand wrapped its talons around the revolver's barrel.  'It would be a crime to destroy those so alluring spectacles.  Here, let me take them from your face.  My, what expressions swim within your wide eyes!  How wonderful a thing is fear.  It teaches us so many new things, don't you find?  Ah!  Is that the skull that Van Prinn used to hold his goose-quill pen?  Yes, I see the top is bored.  Here's, let's rest the bridge of these cheaters over the gap where once this fellow wore a nose."

Obviously, this is the voice of Simon Gregory Williams, ye first-born beast of Sesqua Valley.  He has found Grimm just in time to halt tragedy and enforce a hunt for -- the second pair of spectacles.  And they find them.

"You see, the frames are composed of a similar kind of metal, but the lenses are black as pitch.  What kind of realm could one possibly view with glass that is so opaque?  The answer, of course, has been delicately inscribed across the bridge -- 'Arcanum' -- the hidden world, a world of tantalizing mystery.  Ludwig Prinn scribbled of such a world in his hysterical De Vermis Mysteriis -- and Van Prinn fashioned these so as to peer into that occult realm."

Thus is Grimm whisked off to Sesqua Valley, where he meets a character inspired by Lovecraft's Erich Zann.  Together, three insane figures learn ye secret use of the opaque spectacles, and an Outer God is summon'd forth.  Chillin'!

Harry Townes as Sebastian Grimm

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