Monthly Archives: September 2018

26 Stories

26 Stories: Jonah and the Leviathan

Phew, I barely made my self-enforced deadline for this one. I wrote it today and just finished an initial proofread and revision. This is more raw than some of my other stuff, in more ways than one, as you’ll see (not that what I usually post is polished; that’s not the point of this exercise, really). It’s a sci-fi story, kinda, and it brings back at least one familiar face if you’ve been reading these stories (and another, if you read stuff of mine beyond the 26 Stories tales). Things are starting to come together for my mythos, I think. 

I’m also trying to employ some of what I’m picking up from critiques at the DFW Writer’s Workshop; namely, that I’m wordy and take to long to get to the story. Hopefully, this grabs you right away.

In any event, enjoy the story!

Jonah and the Leviathan
9th Floor

               The Axis Mundi’s sensor array detected the rogue planet with enough time to perform the necessary adjustments to guide the ship through Hawking Space. It would seamlessly re-calculate to avoid the damaging gravity shadow that would have torn the ship down to its component atoms and strewn them across at least this universe, if not others. Instead, some glitch or hiccup in otherwise stable subroutines opted to drop the ship into real space, to the surprise of the Mundi’s captain, Jonah Carthage.

               Jonah had been hauling cargo in his behemoth of a cargo freighter for most of his working life, and he could count the number of times the Mundi dropped from Hawking due to gravity shadows on one finger. Given the severity of failure to course correct and the energy consumption it took to spin an SH drive back up, the systems in these ships were infallible in replotting courses on the fly. As point of fact, the operator’s manual literally stated, “course correction algorithms are infallible.” Why they even existed in the first place could probably be chalked up to a time when computer systems were programmed by humans instead of other, smarter AIs. Hell, most ships didn’t strictly need non-AI captains, but the too-human need to be “doing something” hadn’t gone away with the Singularity. Most ships like the Mundi had full crews—and she could easily support a crew of a hundred or more—solely to stave off the negative effects of deep space isolation.

               Jonah, however, flew alone. The isolation was all he had ever wanted, and so the Mundi mostly flew herself, with him along for the ride. He would push the occasional button when the ship’s AI deemed is safe for human intervention.            He thought the Mundi must have liked him, or pitied him, to give him jobs to do, but he didn’t complain. He didn’t know for certain what she thought, because he’d deactivated her “personality” systems (another human drive; humanize the AIs to make them relatable) because even a sympathetic AI’s voice was more connection than he wanted. He knew she was there, though, which was enough, he supposed.

               He didn’t bother to turn the personality systems back on to find out what dropped the Mundi. It was easy enough to read the displays and see the rogue planet—invisible through the canopy in the pitch black of space but represented in the spatial modeling suite in stunning detail—drifting there, just a few thousand miles from his location. It was a mild curiosity, but hundreds of thousands of these wandering, star-less orphans had been detected and cataloged. He might get a small finder’s bonus from the trade guild if it wasn’t a known object, but little more. He was about to re-plot his course and begin the process of spinning up the drive, when the Mundi’s display highlighted a surface anomaly. Without his intervention, the render of the planetoid expanded as the eyes of the sensor mapping dove down to the craggy surface. Racing past mountains and over canyons, the view soared along a nearly flat plane, then stopped over a single mesa. Enhancing further, the plateau of the mesa grew, and there, resting on top of it, was what appeared to be a door.

               “Huh,” Jonah muttered, his little used voice hoarse.

               The door stood on its own, not attached to any walls or building. It looked older; “vintage” or “retro” would apply. Paneled wood. Door knob. A knocker that, had Jonah seen doors that looked at all like this instead of the flat panels that “whooshed” open and closed as he approached them, would likely be brass. There were three numbers above the knocker as well; 901.

               The Mundi’s display posed one simple line of text to Jonah directly: This should be investigated.

               Jonah was hard-pressed to disagree.

*             *             *             *

               Jonah did not particularly relish time in one of the ship’s smaller surface drones. He liked even less the claustrophobia of the EVA suit that he now wore as he stood on the barren surface of the mesa, facing the strange door. The Mundi rested behind him, dwarfing him, its cargo bay opened like the maw of a great leviathan. He wanted to return to the comfort of her innards; to wander the endless corridors and enjoy the space therein. Even loaded with cargo as she was, he could spend months in different parts of her and still not retrace a pathway. Out here, on the planet’s surface, he was much more aware of the thin layer of polymer fabric that separated him from vacuum and radiation and micro-space dust that would rip him to shreds without the protection of a suit, hull, or planetary atmosphere.

               And yet, as he stared at the door, standing in its frame with nothing behind it, he couldn’t bring himself to turn back. It called to him. This antique portal, he knew, would open to somewhere else. There was no question in his mind that this wasn’t just a doorframe left standing on a planet hurtling through space as some form of art installation or joke. It wasn’t something a bored spacer had left here on the extremely small chance that someone else would discover it, to their confusion.

               Jonah wanted to open the door, but he didn’t do it right away. Instead, he reached out and did the only polite thing.

               He knocked.

*             *             *             *

               The corridor inside the doorway was narrow, white walled, and trimmed in brown, faux-wood baseboard and molding. It felt old, like something out of a movie from the twentieth or twenty-first century. Pictures of indistinct people in gray or sepia tones were surrounded by ornate, gilded frames. Soft light came from an incandescent lamp on a side table. Jonah only recognized these things because he had watched a lot of media on his various trips. This place was in the style of an old New York (before the flooding) apartment. Somewhere, even though the EVA suit should have been sound-proof, he could hear the scratchy sounds of an old radio playing music, and the steady “tick, tack” of some mechanical device. The song wasn’t known to him, and as he tried to focus on and understand the words, they became harder to discern, as if they active fought against understanding. The ticking of the strange device was interrupted by the dinging of a bell, followed by a mechanical ratcheting, after which the ticking started up again.

               He walked along the hallway, toward a second closed door at its terminus. A warm, flickering glow trickled out from below it. The radio and the clacks were coming from this room, and like the first door, he knew that he was going to open it and knew it would be a place much different than this one.

*             *             *             *

               The apartment hallway gave way to a cramped cave, in the middle of which danced the flames of a small fire. Jonah’s first steps into this room were on a spongy surface that made wet sucking sounds as he walked. The smell of rotten meat assaulted him, and he gagged almost instantly. With sudden fear, he realized that his EVA suit helmet was now gone. On instinct, he forced all of the air out of his lungs, expecting to at least slow the effects of decompression as he frantically searched for his helmet. As he did, he saw that the smell came from the floor and walls themselves. They were not rock, but the sickly red and yellow of putrid tissue and muscle. Cancerous growths were prominent, blackened with tumors and undulating with the rippling of the flesh. He gasped, horrified as something that appeared to be a maggot the size of his arm pushed its way out of a pustule and, using large, wicked pincers, tore chunks out of the putrescence.

               Jonah threw up, suddenly thankful that he could—apparently—breath the air here, and more importantly, that his helmet had vanished, preventing him from coating the inside with partially digested ration packs. As the acidic bile of his vomit mixed with the smell in the air, Jonah threw up a second time, until wracked by dry-heaves.

               “That’s fine,” a croaking voice said behind him, jolting him and causing him to spin, the soft floor giving way under his feet and sinking him up to his ankles in rot. “I don’t think we’ll notice a little added mess in here, will we?” Jonah found himself face-to-face with the withered husk of a man whose advanced age he could only guess. He stumbled backward, his foot still caught in the hole he’d made in the “floor,” and fell.

               “Who… what… where…” Jonah floundered.

               “I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. Or rather, I do, but I can’t answer. Or I won’t.” The old man looked confused and scratched at the beard that stretched down to his navel. The white hair was wispy and thin, which did nothing to conceal the fist-sized lice that crawled therein. “I’ve been here for a long time. Or a short time. Or I will be here for a long time. Time…” He glazed over. “Time, time, time…” He trailed off, lost in thought, looking for all the world like a grotesque statue of an ancient corpse. Jonah scrambled to his feet and walked toward one of the walls of the cave, looking for the door that led back to the apartment, and back to the surface of the planetoid.

               “Time!” The old man yelled, again startling Jonah, who had so far only found a tunnel of flesh and cartilage receding into darkness. “Time is… broken here. Broken time.” Now the man scratched at the back of his head, wincing as he did.

               “Who are you?” Jonah asked, stringing together his first complete sentence in months.

               “I’m… many things. And no one thing. I was a king, once. And will be. Or am…” The old man swirled his hands around his head, frustrated. “All at once, and none at all.”

               “How do I get out of here? Back to my ship?”

               “Oh,” the man dismissed, “you can’t.”

               “That’s… there was a door back there. And my ship is…” Confused, Jonah looked around, still seeing no door, though he was positive he’d just stepped through it minutes ago. Or was it hours? Days?

               “No doors here.” He reached behind his head again, as if expecting something to be there. “Where did it go? Where did they put it?” Ignoring Jonah, he looked around on the ground, finally brightening. “Ah!” he said. “There you are!” He reached down to grab the severed end of a tube-like tendril of old flesh that was dripping with puss. The old man put the cable of flesh against the back of his head, smiling a mostly toothless grin. He let go, and it fell to the ground with a splat. The smile faded.

               Jonah tracked the line of flesh as it snaked along the ground. It stopped at what he could only think of as the top of the body of a large, fish-like corpse. The fish’s eyes (if that’s what it was) were gone, leaving only empty sockets. Its mouth lolled open, revealing a mouthful of long, needle-like teeth. Jonah shuddered, terrified at the remains more than anything else about his current predicament. The eye sockets seemed to contain something in the blackness. Some malevolent, utter darkness that seemed alive on its own.

               “It won’t stick. You there!” The old man said, snapping Jonah out of the trance he’d fallen into while gazing into the thing’s eyes. “Can you help an old man out?”

               “Uh… how?”

               “Make this,” he flapped the end of the flesh-tube that he’d retrieved from the ground at Jonah, “stick. Back here. Where it belongs.” He gestured to the back of his head.

               “I just want to get back to my ship.”

               “Yes, yes, fine… put this back and I’ll get you to your ship.”

               “Can you do that?”

               “Can I do what?”

               “Get me back to my ship?”

               “Your ship?”

               “My… the Axis Mundi. I left it parked…” he gestured vaguely in the direction the thought he’d come. “…back there.”

               “I tell you what,” the man said. “I can get you back to this ship if you do something for me.”

               “Help you put that back?”

               “How did you know?”

               “You,” Jonah stammered, “you already asked.”

               “Did I? Oh…” The old man held the tube to the back of his head again. “I’ll tell you what, if you help me put this back…”

               “You’ll get me to my ship. I know.” Jonah crept close to the old man, who waited patiently. When Jonah got to him and moved behind him, he saw that the old man did, indeed, have a festering wound of his own on the back of his skull. A few strands of long gray hair hung there, barely covering it.

               “Well!” the old man snapped. “Take this and put it there. And make it stay.”

               Tentatively, Jonah took the flesh-tube in his hand, glad that the thick gloves of his EVA suit hadn’t gone wherever his helmet had. It was soft in his hands, and for a moment, he felt that the only thing that he should do would be to squeeze it until it collapsed. To yank it out of the fish corpse and throw it all onto the fire. Instead, he pressed it to the old man’s head, gently brushing the hair out of the way.

               “Yes, good,” the old man said. “Now, sew it on.”

               “I… have a welder.”

               “Does it join flesh to flesh?”

               “I… I think so,” Jonah said.

               “Then do that.”

               “It’s going to hurt.”

               “Pain is relative. And fleeting. I need this, young man. I need it.” The voice held such desperation.

               “Okay.” Jonah pulled the micro welder from his suit’s tool belt. He flicked it on, and the blue flame ignited with a hiss. He had half hoped that it wouldn’t have worked. Taking a deep breath, he pressed it to where the tube met flesh. The skin began to boil and blister immediately. If it hurt, the old man showed no sign. Quickly, as the flesh began to scar together, Jonah worked his way around the circumference, until finally he was finished.

               “Ah,” the old man, signed, practically in pleasure. “Yes, that’s what I needed, boy.”

               Jonah walked back around to the front of the man. The man was smiling, a new clarity in his old eyes that hadn’t been there before. The thought of eyes drew Jonah’s back to the fish thing he’d soldered the old man to. Was there something in those eyes that wasn’t there before?

               “So, can you get me out of here?”

               “I can, young man.”

               Jonah sighed. “Thank you. So,” he looked around, “where’s the door back to my ship?”

               “I can get you out, but not to your ship. That way is barred to you forever.”

               “What?” Jonah asked. “You said you could get me back to my ship!”

               “Did I? I may have, but I wasn’t feeling like myself when I did. Can’t trust a confused old man, can you?”

               “But you’re still…” Jonah was about to say he was still a confused old man, but there was new vitality in the old man’s eyes. The skin was beginning to show some color.

               “My dear Jonah,” the man said, now certainly looking healthier, “you should count yourself luck that I am going to allow you to leave at all. It’s a gift I’m giving you.”

               “A gift? And how did you know…”

               “Not for helping me with my… difficulties. That doesn’t mean anything. Someone would have come along and helped anyway; could have been you or it could have been someone else. I had such big plans for that person. No, it was the other thing you did that has convinced me to be merciful. Besides,” he continued, “I can save my intent for those who put me in this prison of flesh and rot.”

               “I… but… what did I do?”

               The man smiled as the body of the fish behind him—the body that was not part of his own—heaved with life. “You knocked.”

*             *             *             *

               Jonah tumbled to the ground in the middle of a vast, white-sand desert. He rolled onto his back and took in air that was stale and dry but didn’t smell like spoiled meat and death. Above him, the sky was a sickly yellow. He thought that perhaps there was a sun behind a layer of clouds, but the more he stared, the less he thought that there were clouds. The yellow seemed to be the sky’s natural color, and if there were stars there, he couldn’t see them.

               He sat up and saw where he had arrived. The mummified remains of a giant beast of some kind, something fleshy and gray, with a gaping circular mouth, scabby ridged skin, and empty eyes (at least ten or so sockets, containing nothing… not even the unnerving blackness of the fish inside wherever it was he had been). It was easily as massive as the Axis Mundi. It had large fins (though there was no body of water here to suggest its natural habitat) and several tree-trunk like leg stalks. From where he sat, it seemed that he had exited the beast from its maw. This creature was old, though; it couldn’t have been what he was inside just moments ago, a still rotting creature, feeding maggots.

               Jonah shuddered, trying not to dwell on that. He truly did sense that he had been given a gift, and that whatever the man had originally intended to do to him would have been far worse than being left alive on some alien landscape.

               He stood, carefully, as the great beast held court over a sprawling kingdom of nothing. Turning to take in his surroundings, Jonah saw with a start that he was not alone.

               A young girl of about ten or so, with dark curly hair and what had once been a bright and colorful sundress, now dirty and faded, watched him. She, in turn, held the hand of what Jonah initially thought was a woman in a robe or a child’s caricature of a ghost, colored in black. Two eyes looked out from a slit in the robe, and he vaguely recognized it from old Earth books and something religious or cultural. The covered woman tilted her head at him, then looked down to the little girl, whose sparkling eyes turned up to meet the wraith’s. Jonah scrutinized at the tall woman and was startled to see that the black robe was colored like a bruise; more angry purple than black. He recoiled as he realized that the robe wasn’t fabric, but the woman’s flesh, fused to her body and shaped into the remnants of the vestments of an outdated civilization.

               “You’re lost,” the little girl said, having turned back to Jonah.

               “I am,” he agreed. “Where is this place?”

               “This is the Golgotha.”

               “Is that a planet in a specific system, somewhere? The Perseids, maybe?”

               “The Golgotha just is.”

               “Great,” he said. “I need to find a transmitter.”

               “It won’t do you any good, this transmitter you want.”

               “Kid, even a standard transmitter can broadcast over Hawking space, and…”

               “No Rabia,” she said, apparently to the woman, “I don’t think he understands.”

               “I don’t understand what,” Jonah asked, addressing the tall woman.

               “Here,” the little girl said, holding out her other hand to him. “We shall show you just how lost you are.”

               Jonah looked at her hand, to the desert of white sand, and back up to the starless, cloudless yellow sky.

               Without a word, as certain as he had known that he’d had to land to investigate the door, and had known to knock first, he reached out and took the little girl’s hand with the oversized glove of his EVA suit.

The End

26 Stories

26 Stories: The Invoked King

This one is an odd duck that I’m going to keep coming back to to revise it. A few years ago, I took a stab at writing an “immersive” play. The idea was that there was going to be a staged reading of a long lost, supposedly cursed play that recently resurfaced. The actors would be playing themselves reading the play as characters in the play. As they read it, things would go wrong, lights would cut out, cell phones would ring, actors would get sick, and some audience members (planted, of course) would experience their own problems during the show and during “intermission” (where the play actually continued in the lobby, restrooms, etc.). It is my attempt to create a “found footage” play. And yes, it is very much inspired by the King in Yellow (It’s called the “Invoked King”). 

Things is, it needs an actual play at its center, complete with academic studies, a history, and so on. This is part of that “paper trail.” The play also ties into my developing mythos as seen in stories here and other places (I reference a character from a series of Weird West stories I’m writing elsewhere who runs into one of the “Titans”). It even more directly ties into my earlier story in this series, “Regarding the Misattribution of the Provenance of the Titans in Greek Mythology.

This version of the cursed play is in my estimation, not good enough yet to be the center of a cosmic mythos. Still, I have to write something every two weeks for my own accountability and this is what I got. I hope you enjoy it!

The Invoked King
8th Floor

from:Gerald X King​​ <>

to:Jonas E Dover <>

subject:  Found a Curiosity for your Titan Research




It’s been a while since we last talked. As I remember, Alex had just finished her​​ master’s​​ around the time of your last email to me. First and foremost, I want to say how sorry I was to find out about what happened to Miranda. I know that happened some time ago, too, and I don’t want to risk opening old wounds, so I’ll just reiterate that you and Alex have my condolences. I hope it’s not too crude of me to say, given the circumstances, but​​ as I sit here in my 8th​​ floor office, staring out at campus and all the lived that will eventually be affected by it, I have to say,​​ fuck cancer.​​ 

On to the topic at hand. I’ve attached a transcription of an old play that my research turned up recently. I’ve got the original here, complete with what appear to be handwritten notes by—I assume—the original writer, one Mister Archibald Wayward. This play was written as near as I can tell at the turn of the twentieth century; 1910 or so, to be precise. I did some research on the play itself and found some interesting circumstances surrounding it’s first and only production run in Chicago. I plan on scanning that and the original and passing that on to you as soon as the department here springs for a new scanner that can handle the older documents safely. Still, I’ve done my best to transcribe the play, the author’s notes, and some notes of my own from my own research.​​ I shall preface the author’s notes with “AW” and mine with “GK”.

You may wonder why I passed this on to you, as early-1900 theater isn’t even close to classical studies. The first thing to note is that this Wayward tried​​ very​​ hard to write it in the style of early classical theater; the influence of Oedipus the King is painfully clear. It is​​ dreadfully​​ overwrought, however, and the writer himself was obviously not a scholar of the material that inspired him. Prepare to cringe, my friend.​​ 

Second, there are some references here that seem to pertain to your research on the Titans and their parallels in other pre-historical cultures.​​ I have noted those parts for you as well, though I doubt you will miss the significance there (and likely see other references I missed, myself).​​ 

Read this over and let me know what you think. I dug this up in old records in the Chicago Public Library, along with the article I will also send you as soon as I can. It seems that the play’s performance met with no small amount of tragedy, and thereafter, while it wasn’t spoken off often, when it was, it was believed​​ to be “cursed.” Someone must have said “Macbeth” in the show, I imagine.

I look forward to what you have to say. The next time you’re up in Chi-town, get in touch with me, and I’ll do the same if I get down to Austin.​​ 

Take Care,

Gerald King, PhD
University of Chicago
Department of Classics

P.S. I nearly forgot to mention that you will notice by the page numbering that three pages appear to be missing between the “Characters/Setting” page. They are referenced a few times in the author’s notes, but were not included with the manuscript when I located it.​​ What might have been there is almost as interesting as everything else, including the tragedy of the performance.





The Invoked King


Archibald Wayward







KING​​ ANAKLETOS:​​ Male.​​ Large and imposing. See notes section for a short list of names of actors and​​ do not deviate.)


[GK: This is the first reference to what I assume are the missing pages.]


EIRENAIOS Male. Early 20s. Must portray the countenance of a scoundrel.


APOLLO​​ Male.​​ Grecian proportions, physically.


CHRYSANTHAE:​​ Female, Early 20s. Again, see notes section for specific questions to pose to actresses during auditions.​​ Ask all questions, no matter how “inappropriate” they may seem.


[GK: Now, more than ever, do I want to see these missing sections.]


THE ORACLE: Female. Middle aged. Actresses must at least believe in “occult” activities (tarot reading, mediumship, etc.), if not have dabbled with them in the past.


ARTEMIS:​​ Female. Haughty and arrogant, but statuesque in posture and proportion.


THE CHORUS: DIONYSUS (Male) and DEMETER (Female) will be part of the CHORUS. The performers for APOLLO and ARTEMIS may stand it, as they will be masked and only appear in this capacity here.​​ 





A glade in the​​ dark forest. Several columns should be present as sentinels, long overgrown with vines. This is, perhaps, the ruins of a once great temple. There is an altar in the center of the stage. See the notes for the exact specifications of the design of the alter.​​ 





Dress should be ancient Grecian. There will be masks for each of the characters (and an extra to stand in as the head of Orpheus), however, only KING ANAKLETOS’ mask must be perfectly designed as specified in the following pages.​​ 


[AW: I have taken it upon myself to stress those other items that must meet​​ the designs to exacting detail, but this one, above all others, must be precise. Do not fail!!!]


[GK: Yes, he added three exclamation marks. He was clearly quite serious.]






[GK: As you can see almost immediately, the language is over-the-top in its attempt to mimic ancient theatrical prose.]




[GK: I’m sure you figured it out already, but I researched the name “Anakletos,” and it means “invoked.”]


(Enters, masked as specified above)

O’ ye all who hath gathered here,

We call thee to pay homage to our patrons,

Dionysius, father of the theater.



(Entering, also in a mask, that of a plump man with a laurel wreath around his head)

We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!


[AW: Do not forget to repeat each set of invocations three times; the rule of three is iron clad.]



May your grapes bring forth the wine,

May the spirits you provide,

Please the souls of the dead,

Who toil in the underworld,

Bereft of joy.


Persephone, daughter of Demeter,

Who was taken to the bosom of Hades,

Bride forever,​​ queen of the damned.



(Entering in the mask of a fair woman)

We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!



Weep not, for though you were taken,

You have been given a seat of honor,

At the right hand of the Lord and Master, Hades,

For whom no gift is too great for thee.


Orpheus, whose songs moved them,

The king and queen of the dead,

And in whose death was immortality gained.



(Enters, not wearing a mask, but carrying the mask of a man, its face twisted in pain​​ and horror, like a severed head)

We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!



Though the Bacchianids tore you limb from limb,

Your bodiless​​ head continued to sing out,

Your voice still pure and true,

For death could not come for thee.


And finally, to the Invoked King,

Whose reign was so frightful,

Whose kingdom twisted and foul,

And for whom such sacrifices were made,

That even the mighty Olympians trembled,

And who took care to wipe thine existence​​ 

From all history by exiling thee to lands beyond

Even horrible Tartarus.

So blighted were you that even the Titans,

Trapped in their eternal prison,

Were stripped of memories of you,

For you were older even than they.


[GK: This was the first of the references I believed would interest you. The Titans were directly mentioned, but this seems to suggest the existence—as least for the play’s story—of something older than the Titans.]



We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!

We invoke thee!


Dark king from the folds of space

To thee we give you this poem,

So that while the gods attempted to erase you,

We shall always remember you.

May this sacrifice give strength.



I shall be appeased.



I am but a maiden, untouched by man.​​ Here I find myself, lost in the dark wood.​​ I fear for my safety, and for my virtue,​​ pure and strong. Gods,​​ show me the path through these woods!


[GK: I truly believe that the playwright specifically wanted an actual virgin for this part, given his obsession with the idea and his references to “inappropriate” questions.]



The woods are dark, my child, and the path you seek difficult to see.




You have frightened me​​ sir!



In places such as this, there is much​​ not of man​​ to frighten you.



But​​ surely​​ not thee, for​​ thine is the face of kindliness.


[GK: Yet he is masked. One can only assume it is a friendly looking mask?]



Many are the beasts that would prey upon your flesh. Of countless number are the men who would prey upon it as well.​​ A kindly face may be a mask, hiding a darkness that wouldst do thee harm.



I believe that the gods would show me guidance. These woods, as all, belong to Artemis.



Not​​ these​​ woods, dear child.



You should watch thy blasphemous tongue,​​ good​​ sir, for all woods are in Artemis’ domain.​​ 



Not all corners of creation are visible to the gods, child.​​ To assume such is to grant the gods greater power than they presently have.



Who are you, strange man who hides in shadow, that you would so cast aspersions onto the gods themselves?



A king.



A king, you say? Over what land do you rule?




Why​​ this​​ land, and all lands forgotten.​​ For forgotten lands are​​ my​​ domain, as you say all forests belong to Artemis.



Lands may be forgotten by men, but no lands are forgotten​​ by the gods.



These lands, are. But I digress; it is you who should provide answers to my questions, not t’other way ‘round, for you are in​​ my​​ home.​​ How have you come to this land,​​ here before​​ the time of,​​ and forgotten​​ by,​​ even the terrible Titans?




Creation was in its infancy when the Titans were born, so to suggest​​ that these lands were here prior to their horrible reign​​ is foolishness.​​ 



It is what it is. I have been king of these lands since​​ before​​ Creation gave its first strangled cry.​​ I watched as Crinos was formed from the unknowable chaos of the universe and as he foolishly believed that he tamed the untamable currents of time. I watched him take Gaia as his lover, raping her and cowing her into submission so that the Titans would be born of their​​ unholy coupling. I have seen all​​ these things are more, as I have been around since the true beginning of time, which cannot be said to begin or end and which flows​​ like a distorted river​​ in directions and through spaces no man, god, or Titan can fathom. I am perhaps older even than the birth of that​​ very same​​ strange river. But again, you have avoided my questioning. How did you get here?


[GK: This reference here is the most direct reference to your own research. Does it mean anything to you?]



I was lost. My guide,​​ Eirenaios,​​ had suggested a shortcut, but it seems he has​​ led us to the wrong grove. It is​​ certainly a land I know not.


[GK: “Eirenaios” means “peace, tranquility, and harmony.” I’ll leave it up to you to determine why that was chosen as this​​ character’s​​ name, as you’ll soon see. Okay, I shall stop doing research you are most capable of doing yourself.]​​ 



But hush, for I have told you where you now find yourself child.​​ 



Indeed you have,​​ even while you have been evasive with your answers,​​ and I sense that no further questioning will reveal more insight than​​ what you have already given me. As you appear to be kindly and bear me no harm,


Though clearly touched in the mind to speak of such things as time before great Crinos...


I shall, instead, beseech​​ thee​​ to assist me in finding my way back,​​ if not​​ to my guide,​​ then to​​ the path to Ephesus​​ and​​ the temple of Artemis. I am to be initiated into the mysteries of the great huntress.



More important, then, that you guard your virginity against those who would seek to defile it, such as your guide, Eirenaios. I fear he means you harm, and I would see no harm come to those who traverse my kingdom, lest they​​ bring harm upon it.



Again, you show me much kindness, and you respect the laws of Xenia. However, your concern is misplaced. For you see, I have consulted with the Oracle, and she herself told me that she did not foresee any ill fortune befalling me on my​​ way to Ephesus.​​ 



Oracles are quite wise, and​​ do​​ see more than many humans – and even some gods – can see of the future. Tell me, child, what were the​​ exact​​ words of the Oracle, as she said them to you?​​ 



As I said, she did not foresee any-



It is possible that you have misinterpreted her words and taken from them the wrong meaning. Let me hear her words​​ exactly​​ as they were spoken so that I may fully allay my worries for your wellbeing.


Very well.


(THE ORACLE​​ enters, kicking off a flashback.)



Welcome, my child.​​ 



Greetings, Oracle, I come to you in reverence for your sight that​​ pierces​​ beyond the veils of time and of space. I have come to you on the eve of my own great journey to​​ Ephesus, where I am to be inducted into the mysteries of Artemis.​​ 



You must be a woman of virtue, her maidenhead untouched, to be admitted so.​​ Ist thou​​ pure, unsullied by the hands of man?



Indeed. I have come to ask if you see success in my journey, or if I am to fall victim to the dangers of the roads between Athens and​​ Ephesus.



I shall show thee the fate of the travels facing you. Be soft as I give an invocation to far-seeing Apollo.​​ 


(THE ORACLE​​ closes her eyes, entering a trance)


Oh Apollo,​​ 

He who navigates the raging river of time,​​ 

Dug and filled by Crinos and set,​​ 

On an implacable journey ever forward,​​ 

Sweeping along all life to eventually end in Hades,​​ 

Domain of the dead and prison of the damned,

Show me the threads of this maiden’s fate,

As she travels toward her destiny.


I see a road, long and hard, but not without havens of safety and hospitality. I see one who would proclaim to be your guide, who will offer his services to lead you to your end, proclaiming no reward required in return, as his only desire is assistance. I see a parting and then-

(THE ORACLE pauses.)



Yes? Speak, Oracle, for I must know that the fruit of my lifelong studies and dedication shall not be denied to me by misfortune.



I see a wood, and... and-


And what? Speak true, Oracle, do you see harm come to me?



I... the threads of your fate are difficult to unknot, but... but I​​ can see no harm coming to thee, child.



(End Flashback, and spoken to​​ KING ANAKLETOS)

Those were her words, “I​​ can​​ see no harm coming to thee, child.”


[GK: I am going to pull in a direct quote from the survivor of the theater’s disaster. While much of what this witness said was disjointed and confused, the reporting was very specific on her memory of this.​​ She said she remember the Oracle launching into what seemed to be​​ an un-scripted monologue. Astonishingly, the witness recounted it in full. I’ll include it here:


“I see a false king, standing in the shadow of the true king. I see two faces, one a mask and one showing true. Beware, for kindness is deceptive, and much as terrible creatures in the darkest depths of the ocean dangle pleasant motes of light to draw unsuspecting prey into their horrible, be-fanged maws, so too does the mask conceal horror beyond human imagining.


“Beware strangers with pleasing faces and kind hearts, and search for the appendage of twisted, rotted flesh affixed to the back of their head, leading back to the true beast behind the lure, for to look upon such a creature is to know the truth of all creation, and the knowledge will shatter the mind of he who beholds it. False kings shall perish from the noose, while sacrifice and conflagration will claim the true offerings, opening the doorway from whence shall come the horrors from beyond the folds of the curtains.”


Did you catch that reference to “flesh... leading back to the true beast behind the lure?” Doesn’t that remind you of​​ an​​ anglerfish? And furthermore, didn’t you once dredge up some account from an old Confederate soldier who, before his death, talked about meeting a man who was a lure for a terrifying “fish thing?”]



“I​​ can​​ see no harm coming to thee” is not the same as “no harm shall come to thee.” As I said, the words of the oracles are precise in their meaning, and you should take care​​ to​​ interpret them thus.​​ 



Again, thy concern is touching, but her words spoke of kindness on my travel, and guides, which I took​​ to mean Eirenaios, but I now believe was a portent to prelude our meeting, for you have shown me naught but kindness, while I caught Eirenaios making lusty eyes at mine​​ shapely​​ hindquarters.


But hark, speaking of your erstwhile​​ guide​​ has summoned him, as the thrice-repetition of one’s true​​ name is sure to do, by the mystical rules of​​ all the universe.




Young Chrysanthae, it is I, Eirenaios, your guide. I fear that I have lost you in these woods, and would therefore have failed you in my duties as your guide.​​ 



I am here​​ Eirenaios, and worry not, for the kindly king of these lands...


... oh my, kind king,​​ forgive me as​​ I have neglected to inquire as to the name of my host.​​ 



I am called King Anakletos.


[AW:​​ Thus marks​​ the first invocation.]

[GK: Odd choice of notes.]



The kindly​​ king​​ of these lands has been naught but hospitable and provided me with sage advice and an assurance of safe passage. Truly, he serves​​ the gods by his​​ demonstrated​​ understanding of​​ the treatment of guests.





Why do you smirk so, king, if that truly be your title?



She says I serve the gods, but as I have told her... forsooth, pay it no mind, for it is of little bearing upon your countenance.



What​​ knowest thou of my countenance?


[GK: The “forsooths” and “naughts”​​ and “knowests”​​ are saturating this writing. His editor must have hated him, though I bet he didn’t have one.]



I know your intentions toward this young maiden are not the intentions of a gentleman, nor do you truly wish to guide her through these woods.​​ 



That is not so! How dare you besmirch my reputation, oh king without a kingdom! I shall see thee run through for these insults.

(EIRENAIOS​​ produces a large knife.)

For sullying my honor, I shall challenge you to a gentleman’s duel.



(LAUGHS, but takes no action)

You do amuse me, little man, with your bluster. But I know in thine heart that thou art a coward who soils maidens’​​ virtues​​ and murders their bodies. You would no sooner attack me than​​ you would slit your own throat.



Please, gentlemen, this fighting upsets me! Cease it at once, for my sake, and the sake of the other I hear approaching this clearing.



Another approaches!​​ Chrysanthae, stand with me so that I could protect you from perhaps an even more dangerous threat.



I... I believe I​​ shall​​ stand between thee and my lord​​ so that I am equally protected.



(ARTEMIS enters, disguised as an old woman)

Greetings, strangers, I am but an old woman, traveling these roads,​​ and appear to have found myself turned around. Can any of thee help me find my way back to the road to​​ Ephesus?



How fortuitous that you have arrived, kindly matron, for I, too, am headed to​​ Ephesus, and will require guidance along that path.



Ah, are you to be inducted into the Mysteries of Artemis?



I am, indeed. But I am fortunate to have both a guide through these woods, and the assistance of the​​ lord​​ of these woods, and if you could but help settle an argument betwixt the two, perhaps we can all work toward​​ a beneficial end.



For an initiate of Artemis, I would see thee through thine conflict and we will then travel the road to​​ Ephesus​​ together, for I have business there, myself, though not of the initiates, sadly. I am too old for such things, but as a young girl, I would, too, have​​ been bound for​​ the mysteries. Now, what is this dispute you would have me settle?



This young man, my guide, and the king of this forest both believe that the other means me harm. Both have shown naught but kindness to me. If neither means to take my virtue or my life, then both will perhaps​​ be at ease. If one means to harm me, then I must know, so that I will be certain to place my life in the correct hands.


[GK: This play could be made 50% shorter by cleaning up this sad attempt at the language and cutting out the constant repetition. The playwright was a terrible writer.]



And what if both mean you harm?




The Oracle prophesized that she saw no harm come to me, so surely at least one of my erstwhile guides is pure and true.



I see. And you would have me deduce which of these two men is your savior, and which​​ may be​​ the architect of your untimely end. Hmm...

(She eyes the two men.)



I... I give you my word that I mean this young lady no harm in her travels. I come from a line of honest farmers, workers of land, where reputation is all a man has.



(Looks​​ EIRENAIOS​​ up and down)

You have an honest​​ him​​ face, but all men wear masks that hide the truth.


And you... you I find very hard to see clearly. Perhaps it is my old eyes, but there is a mystery to you.



There is mystery to all men. As you yourself said, all men – and​​ women​​ as well-

(ARTEMIS​​ flinches while​​ KING ANAKLETOS​​ smiles knowingly.)

wear masks. Tell me, “old woman,” what mask do you wear? Hmm?



You see?​​ She flinches.​​ She does not trust him. In her wisdom, she sees that he is a man of great darkness.

(Brandishes his knife)

Now,​​ Chrysanthae, allow me to take you from him.



I did not say you were an honest man, no more than I said I knew for certain that​​ he​​ was a man with murderous intent. Tell me, king, what is your name so that I might know you?



Oh, I am certain you would not have heard my name spoken. ‘tis an old name and fallen​​ into​​ disuse.​​ 



It is King Anakletos.


[AW: Thus, the second​​ invocation.]



A name I have not heard.


Would you not ask my name, then?



I am certain that I know it, though it does not match your​​ current​​ visage.​​ 




Enough of this!​​ 

(Gets behind​​ CHRYSANTHAE​​ and puts the knife to her throat)

I grow weary of pretense. Yes, I mean to soil this girl’s virtue and murder her here in these woods. I would have done so quietly, but now this dalliance has taken its toll upon me​​ and my patience. I shall take her away from the both of you, have my way with her at my leisure, and be out of this accursed place!



(Ditching the old woman routine to stand straight and true)

Touch not my initiate, foul man!



Could it be?




Indeed, it is.



Yes, it is I, Artemis herself! I lost sight of​​ Chrysanthae​​ as she traveled to my temple to be initiated into my Mysteries, and as she is to hold a place of high honor, I felt strongly the need to rescue her myself! And now I see that-



Enough of this grandstanding, woman.




Who would dare talk to a god in such a manner.



I would.​​ 



Please, do not speak so to my patron goddess, I implore you.



Artemis herself? No this cannot be so. I will slit this woman’s throat and be gone from here!

(He tries to plunge the knife into​​ CHRYSANTHAE’S​​ throat, but​​ KING ANAKLETOS​​ holds up a hand.​​ EIRENAIOS’S knife stops in midair, then begins to tremble.)

What is this? Mine​​ own hand betrays me?



I said you would no sooner raise that knife against me, or​​ Chrysanthae​​ for that matter, than you would slit your own throat. And now, I shall see thee to it.

(Flicks his hand)

(EIRENAIOS​​ runs the knife against his own throat)



Ah! What cruel devilry is this!? I have slain myself against my very will!​​ 

(He then dies.)


[AW: This performer may well not be able to utter this line. It is of no concern; allow the show to proceed.]



How? How dids’t though​​ cause the young man to​​ so mortally​​ harm to himself?




This I too would like to know.



‘twas the darkness in his own​​ heart that caused such action. ‘tis nothing what he wouldn’t have done hads’t​​ he​​ truly​​ known himself.​​ 



You... strange king... what manner of man are you?




No mere man, Artemis.​​ 



If thee art a god, I knowest thee not.



This is all quite strange. Am I to understand that I am in the presence of Gods?



(Gesturing to​​ ARTEMIS)

A​​ god, should thee call this ancient woman as such.



I beg thee, sir... if that be Artemis, speak to her that way not.



Speak, speak, speak... my dear, young maiden, thou hast spoken enough.​​ 

(CHRYSANTHAE​​ opens her mouth to speak, but​​ KING ANAKLETOS​​ holds up a hand, stopping her.)

Speak thee not, for thine elders are conversing.

(CHRYSANTHAE​​ tries to speak, but mimes being unable to make the words come out.)


Now then,​​ goddess... why have you come to this, the road truly less traveled?


[AW: If all preparations have been carried out as​​ outlined, her silence will be most convincing.]



As I said... my future priestess disappeared from my sight. As her protector, I felt it my duty to find out why.



Ah, such concern for these mortals.​​ 



The mortals are our charges as gods.



The mortals are a burden on existence.



They burden not the gods.



Not your existence.​​ My​​ existence. But, they have a purpose.



I cannot see into your purpose, stranger...​​ 



Then perhaps you, a goddess, are more limited.



Let my disciple speak. I would converse with her.




Speak, child, if you must.




My voice, though taken, hath now returned. And I find myself struck nearly speechless again. Why hath the gods come here? How have I, a simple adherent of the Mysteries, drawn such attention?


Flatter thyself not, mortal. While you are certainly under my protection, our reason for coming here had less to do with you, and more to do with your host.​​ We can neither see him, nor his realm, in the manner that the gods normally see all of the cosmos.





Surprised, I am not.




Yes, “we” strange king, for my sister and I seek more knowledge.



Surely,​​ I have​​ been blessed​​ to reach the concerns of​​ two​​ gods.



Sister, this mortal feels that she has risen in importance to us.​​ I must admit,​​ she is pleasing to the eye.



Covet her not, as she is of mine, brother Apollo.



Of course, sister.



I mean no disrespect, oh gods, but this mysterious king​​ has shown me much kindness.



There is likely more to him that we know, for he and his provenance are mysterious and​​ hidden from us. We, my sister and I, have come to this place to seek out the answers, and not more than that.


[GK: Such chatter, and such repetition​​ from​​ each character. Talk, talk, talk; very little action.]



You have not come to see me safely to Ephesus?



My sister may have some concern​​ for thee, but I am ambivalent.​​ 



All​​ virtuous​​ sisters are precious to me, but in truth, child, the ‘king’ before thee is of more import.



You see, child? Even the gods have abandoned thee. As all gods are wont to do to their creations.



But... what am I to do in the face of such abandonment?



Listen not to him, dear child.​​ His is the domain of lies.



I lie not, girl. The truth, in fact, shall I show thee.​​ 



His lies come swiftly!​​ Let us dispatch him, sister, and be done with it.



Quiet, godling!

(He waves his hand, and APOLLO falls to the stage, lifeless.)



(Rushes to her brother’s side)

Villain! Thou hast killed my brother!​​ 




So I have.




You cannot kill a god!



I can do what​​ I wish.​​ 



Fool! Now, shall I visit upon thee my wrath!

(She draws a bow from an unknown​​ source and​​ aims​​ an arrow toward KING ANAKLETOS’ heart. He holds up a hand to halt her.)



Foolish woman. You cannot​​ loose​​ arrow upon me. And now, I demand that you speak truth, as you would have your oracle speak...​​ 



(In a​​ sudden​​ trance)

And in his coming, so too came the madness and death and all that was foretold by​​ those​​ who see the future for what ‘tis and what shall always be. In fire​​ he is born forth in a form such that none shall bear witness. For in his sight, all are driven mad by the darkness that lurks below the waves. In his realm, mortals are but chattel, there for the feast that is to come in the era of man’s end​​ and in the end, may he find not peace, but eternal torment, to toil and​​ suffer in ways naught yet described in the fevered nightmares of man​​ nor god​​ nor​​ the god of Christ nor Allah nor Yahweh nor​​ Buddha​​ nor​​ Shiva nor​​ Zeus nor science nor​​ any attempt that man hath to offer to explain​​ while the false king sways with rope around neck, he who claimed to be the alpha and the omega but for whom death was but a blessing​​ and in the fires, may we all be taken swiftly.

(ARTEMIS, too, falls to the stage, lifeless.)


[GK: His use of modern gods is an odd and anachronistic choice, here, but as you can see below, this is where it seems to become an immersive play​​ by breaking the fourth wall to address the audience directly, and very heavy-handedly​​ so.]



Thou​​ has done in Artemis, as well?






Before she died, she spoke of gods with names I knew not. Christ and Allah and so on.



Pretenders to immortality. False idols to the truth.​​ Much as the Olympians themselves.



In this, I believe that thou hast deceived me!



Perhaps, but in truth, thou were born into deceit. In life, you were fed lies. Hope. Sacrifice. Salvation. Grace. All of your kind has been lied to and will be lied to in all ways.​​ I bring truth.



Oh, grant me sweet release!



I shall, but even in the release of death, thou shalt not find peace. None who hear these words, who witness this show of theater, shall know anything other than the true horror that comest over the soul of man!



Your words are terrible, but I cannot deny the hold they have over me!​​ Yes, then, allow me to be a​​ sacrifice to those eternal who seek to pierce the barrier between​​ theater and truth!​​ But first, please show me thine face under the mask.



I shall do so, child.

(He lifts his mask)

(CHRYSANTHAE SCREAMS and SCREAMS until she falls to the stage, dead, her death mask that of pure fear.)


[GK:​​ Jonas, the section of the original was torn out, so what I will try to do is give you the somewhat fantastical account from the surviving witness to the fire. “When the man playing the evil king lifted his mask, we all gasped in terror... underneath, he had no face. I do not mean that​​ where his face would be was smooth skin lacking eyes or a mouth or so, but there was a hole that appeared to be carved into his very skull. Rather that bone and gore, however, the dark hole held and vast emptiness that contained the multitudes of our universe, and perhaps others. Such terror haunts my dreams and my waking hours!” The effects must have been rather advanced to pull off such an effect on the audience! Perhaps the notes on how to achieve this were included in the missing pages.]



(To the assembled patrons of this doomed show.)

Witness this, the thinning of the veil. Witness this, the easement of reality and fiction, such that one shall bleed over to the other. Witness the​​ border between that which is story and that which is real becoming so permeable that neither is.​​ 

(He holds out his arms, taking in all his sacrifices and opening the doorway.)

Rejoice, for in your deaths shall the conflagrations of eternity purge all from this land and render it back to its true masters! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!​​ For Anakletos has come again!


[AW: And the third and final invocation!]





[GK: You see? The whole manuscript reads like an early attempt at one of those interactive or immersive plays that are becoming quite popular in theater these days. The writing, like I said, is atrocious, though I have to admit that it made the hairs on my arms stand up from time to time. When you take this in conjunction with the story about the disaster—that the theater burned to the ground and only one audience member survived—it almost seems like there was more to it. Perhaps it would be the plot for a B horror movie. “The Cursed Play,” or something like that.


You’ll notice from the story from the Chicago Daily Journal (long defunct) that the sole survivor of the fire, who was quoted a few times above, gave a very odd and, frankly, unbelievable story. She was also certain that the play was not completed before the fire consumed everything. It’s likely the stage was burned to a crisp with everyone on it before the final lines of “King Anakletos.” Poor Wayward didn’t get to his “third and final invocation” (I assume of the king’s name) after all. You and I both know of the significance of names and the rule of three in many occultic cultures. If I didn’t know any better, if I were to speculate fancifully, I think this poor sod (and terrible writer) was trying to put together some kind of ritual. But I’ll leave that to the authors of horror stories, and out of the halls of academia.


I wish you well my friend. Let me know if this adds any clarity to your own research. If not, consider it a novelty, then; the ramblings of a man suffering from some sort of mental breakdown.]