I have been quiet, have I not? The dread scourge of writer’s block entered into alliance with depression (built in) and stress (external, mainly the pandemic) and rendered me somewhat unproductive.
Happily, the most magical time of the year has come to my rescue– it’s Hallowe’en! Spooky scary skeletons, unconcerned with current events! Unspeakable creatures that didn’t seek elected office! So much joy! It has struck (or at least loosened) the shackles from my creative organs, and the first thing I’m doing is giving back with a fresh free story.
I’m going to give some background on the genesis of “The Centennial Legacy” but there’s something of a spoiler involved. So, I’m going to post a large picture of a cat hanging out with some esoteric stuff to act as a spacer. Don’t want the spoiler? Just click that title and get reading.
…although it occurs to me that I should mention that this is something of a fan fiction, taking inspiration and setting from a story by the guy that keeps the fire on under the “Artist is not the Art” pot, H. P. Lovecraft. After the idea came up, I found that the events in his story were set one hundred years ago almost to the week, so it had to be written.
All right. Here we go. CAT!
If you’re still with me, I will now reveal that the inspiring story is “The Lurking Fear” and yes, it sort of leans on eugenics for its horror and thus is an excellent example of why sensible fans of Ol’ Providence are a little hesitant to own their fan-ness.
But it’s also a good yarn about really awful monsters which are entirely natural. While H.P. fell back on his usual “indescribable, shapeless, unnameable” and some curtain-dropping faints, these monsters are living creatures of an earthly origin… if you consider the Netherlands part of Earth.
What prompted the story was listening to a weather report about a month ago promising yet more smoke from yet another forest fire. The undisciplined mind wandered a bit, and after touching on “glad I don’t live in a forest” some hidden relays closed and I was presented with a mental picture of the horrors in “The Lurking Fear” suddenly being made to join Bambi and Susanna Moodie in headlong flight from a forest fire.
And then I thought hard about the conclusion of “The Lurking Fear”. The narrator declares that he’s wiped out the thousands of creepy descendants of inbred Dutchmen… but did he really check that hard? What if… let’s say 25 of them avoided the extermination. Taking that, a narrow assumption about what age they start and stop bearing children and a pretty pessimistic view of infant mortality among the Martenses, and plugged them into a handy online calculator.
In a hundred years, you’d have more than seven thousand of the buggers. Yike. That’s plenty of scary.
Before I stop flapping my fingers, I’ll mention that I tried the numbers running from the last date of contact in Lovecraft’s story to the year it was set (1810 to 1921, if you’re wondering) and it turns out that there could have been 10,000 to 15,000 of the damn things down there. Turns out he wasn’t exaggerating the numbers he has his narrator offering.