H. P. Lovecraft. A name that conjures images of frozen landscapes, long dead cities, and tentacled, alien gods. If I recall correctly, he was the second horror writer I ever read—the first being Stephen King, of course. He was certainly the first “cosmic” horror writer I ever read. As a teenager, the bulk of the books in my growing collection consisted of sci-fi and fantasy novels by authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Herbert and the like. Reading Lovecraft, with his limited dialogue, dense, overwritten prose, and themes of futility and madness undoubtedly made an impression on the much younger version of myself. An experience shared by many others, judging by Lovecraft’s enduring legacy and influence over a large number of today’s practitioners of dark fiction. Though his style may seem a bit dense and overwrought to the modern reader, there is no arguing that his ideas—in particular those dealing with his “mythos,” the pantheon of unknowable, uncaring “gods” he created, incarnations of a mindless, uncaring universe—still hold a particular resonance in today’s world, maybe even more so than they did at the time of their creation due to humankind’s ever expanding knowledge of the universe, our ever dwindling place within it.
Which brings me to my cosmic horror novella, DAYS OF RAIN, published by Nightscape Press. While it bears little resemblance to Lovecraft’s style, it owes much to the man’s ideas. When a storm settles in over the fictional, coastal town of Hidden Bay, the people living there find themselves drawn into an ever deepening nightmare unleashed by a monstrous, unknowable force. Regarding the book’s aforementioned style… DAYS OF RAIN is what I consider a “flash novella” as I placed a maximum count of a thousand words on each of its chapters, the generally accepted limit for what is considered a “flash fiction” story. (A similar approach, by the way, to what I’ve undertaken for my ongoing zombie apocalypse “flash novel” series, YEAR OF THE DEAD.) After writing a trilogy of Choose Your Own Adventure style novels (my One Way Out books), I found that I enjoyed working in what would be considered non-traditional story formats. So I came up with the idea for a narrative unfolding day after day, each day a chapter, with limitations in place as to how much detail I could go into regarding each chapter. Limitations that forced me to get to the point, to not dawdle, to move the story along. In the end, I was happy with the results. I was also happy when Nightscape agreed to publish my cosmic horror novella, one that I have agreed to expand upon with a pair of sequels, tentatively titled DREAMS OF RAIN and DARK GOD OF RAIN.
I look forward to returning to the world of Hidden Bay, to revealing the extent of the plan waiting to be enacted by the monstrous, unknowable force residing nearby—too close, by far—biding its time beneath the ocean waves…
DAYS OF RAIN
In the cold, lightless depths of the ocean, something stirred. Something that, had there been human eyes to witness its stirring, would have been initially mistaken for a section of the ocean floor come to life. Shaking off the silt that had settled onto the broad expanse of its head during the years it had lain there, silent and unmoving—but not unthinking, no, never unthinking—it rose upward through the frigid darkness, causing the strange and varied creatures that had made of this place a home to flee in primal, animalistic terror. For here was something alien and unknowable, something that caused alarms to scream within the most primitive of brains. Here was something before which even the mightiest and most ferocious of predators residing within this vast, liquid realm would cower. Here was a nightmare made flesh, the embodiment of everything the planet’s dominant lifeform, humankind, had learned to fear throughout its brief history. And as it ascended, it pondered the names it had plucked from the psychic babble infecting the world above, the very noise that drove it down into the ocean depths for years at a time so that it might find peace. Names like:
After making its way toward one of the planet’s larger land masses, it slowed then stopped where the water remained deep enough to hide it from detection. It knew this place, had visited it some two decades earlier, had returned in order to set an experiment in motion, to see if its presence had a more noticeable effect on the nearby human settlement than it had before. To see how much of its strength had returned, how its powers had grown.
As it hovered there, less than a mile from the shoreline, it reached out with its mind, felt the waters surrounding it grow warmer, become more active, sensed a gathering of the clouds in the night skies high above. And it heard the dream voices of those who lay sleeping throughout the town of Hidden Bay raised in fear as something ancient and inexplicable revealed itself to them. Come morning, it knew, the fear would be explained away, rationalized and ridiculed when the logic of the waking world had once again reasserted itself. But it would not be fully exorcised. No. It would lie in wait and, given the right conditions, bloom like a flower bearing poisonous fruit. It only needed to be fed, to be nurtured as its roots took hold within the fertile soil of the human imagination.
Just before sunrise, the front line of thunderclouds reached the shoreline.
And, shortly thereafter, the rain began to fall.