Pickman’s Other Model (1929)
Caitlín R. Kiernan*, 2011
First published in Paula Guran’s 2011 Lovecraft Mythos anthology, New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird*, “Pickman’s Other Model” is a masterful continuation of H. P. Lovecraft’s original story “Pickman’s Model” that was first published in Weird Tales magazine in October 1927. [Read about the original here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickman%27s_Model
Read the original Lovecraft story here: https://thesanguinewoods.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/pickmans-model-a-story-by-h-p-lovecraft-1927/]
I have never been much for movies, preferring, instead, to take my entertainment in the theater, always favoring living actors over those flickering, garish ghosts magnified and splashed across the walls of dark and smoky rooms at twenty-four frames per second. I’ve never seemed able to get past the knowledge that the apparent motion is merely an optical illusion, a clever procession of still images streaming past my eye at such a rate of speed that I only perceive motion where none actually exists. But in the months before I finally met Vera Endecott, I found myself drawn with increasing regularity to the Boston movie houses, despite this long-standing reservation.
I had been shocked to my core by Thurber’s suicide, though, with the unavailing curse of hindsight, it’s something I should certainly have had the presence of mind to have seen coming. Thurber was an infantryman during the war—La Guerre pour la Civilisation, as he so often called it. He was at the Battle of Saint Mihiel when Pershing failed in his campaign to seize Metz from the Germans, and he survived only to see the atrocities at the Battle of the Argonne Forest less than two weeks later. When he returned home from France early in 1919, Thurber was hardly more than a fading, nervous echo of the man I’d first met during our college years at the Rhode Island School of Design, and, on those increasingly rare occasions when we met and spoke, more often than not our conversations turned from painting and sculpture and matters of aesthetics to the things he’d seen in the muddy trenches and ruined cities of Europe.
And then there was his dogged fascination with that sick bastard Richard Upton Pickman, an obsession that would lead quickly to what I took to be no less than a sort of psychoneurotic fixation on the man and the blasphemies he committed to canvas. When, two years ago, Pickman vanished from the squalor of his North End “studio,” never to be seen again, this fixation only worsened, until Thurber finally came to me with an incredible, nightmarish tale which, at the time, I could only dismiss as the ravings of a mind left unhinged by the bloodshed and madness and countless wartime horrors he’d witnessed along the banks of the Meuse River and then in the wilds of the Argonne Forest.
But I am not the man I was then, that evening we sat together in a dingy tavern near Faneuil Hall (I don’t recall the name of the place, as it wasn’t one of my usual haunts). Even as William Thurber was changed by the war and by whatever it is he may have experienced in the company of Pickman, so too have I been changed, and changed utterly, first by Thurber’s sudden death at his own hands and then by a film actress named Vera Endecott. I do not believe that I have yet lost possession of my mental faculties, and if asked, I would attest before a judge of law that my mind remains sound, if quite shaken. But I cannot now see the world around me the way I once did, for having beheld certain things there can be no return to the unprofaned state of innocence or grace that prevailed before those sights. There can be no return to the sacred cradle of Eden, for the gates are guarded by the flaming swords of cherubim, and the mind may not—excepting in merciful cases of shock and hysterical amnesia—simply forget the weird and dismaying revelations visited upon men and women who choose to ask forbidden questions. And I would be lying if I were to claim that I failed to comprehend, to suspect, that the path I was setting myself upon when I began my investigations following Thurber’s inquest and funeral would lead me where they have. I knew, or I knew well enough. I am not yet so degraded that I am beyond taking responsibility for my own actions and the consequences of those actions.
Black Wings of Cthulhu: Tales of Lovecraftian Horror
Table of Contents
ix • Introduction (Black Wings) • essay by S. T. Joshi
5 • Pickman’s Other Model (1929) • (2008) • novelette by Caitlín R. Kiernan
34 • Desert Dreams • (2010) • short story by Donald R. Burleson
46 • Engravings • short story by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
56 • Copping Squid • (2009) • novelette by Michael Shea
78 • Passing Spirits • short story by Sam Gafford
97 • The Broadsword • [The Children of Old Leech] • novella by Laird Barron
142 • Usurped • novelette by William Browning Spencer
163 • Denker’s Book • short story by David J. Schow
172 • Inhabitants of Wraithwood • [Cthulhu Mythos] • novelette by W. H. Pugmire
209 • The Dome • short story by Mollie L. Burleson
218 • Rotterdam • short story by Nicholas Royle
236 • Tempting Providence • novelette by Jonathan Thomas
273 • Howling in the Dark • short story by Darrell Schweitzer
286 • The Truth About Pickman • [Cthulhu Mythos] • short story by Brian Stableford
306 • Tunnels • short story by Philip Haldeman
326 • The Correspondence of Cameron Thaddeus Nash • novelette by Ramsey Campbell
355 • Violence, Child of Trust • short story by Michael Cisco
364 • Lesser Demons • novelette by Norman Partridge
392 • An Eldritch Matter • short story by Adam Niswander
400 • Substitutions • novelette by Michael Marshall Smith
421 • Susie • short story by Jason Van Hollander
Black Wings of Cthulhu 2: 18 Tales of Lovecrafian Horror
Table of Contents
7 • Introduction: “Black Wings of Cthulhu 2” • (2012) • essay by S. T. Joshi
11 • When Death Wakes Me to Myself • (2012) • novelette by John Shirley
45 • View • (2012) • short story by Tom Fletcher
61 • Houndwife • (2012) • short story by Caitlín R. Kiernan
85 • King of Cat Swamp • (2012) • novelette by Jonathan Thomas
107 • Dead Media • (2012) • short story by Nick Mamatas
125 • The Abject • (2012) • short fiction by Richard Gavin
149 • Dahlias • (2012) • short story by Melanie Tem
159 • Bloom • (2012) • novelette by John Langan
195 • And the Sea Gave Up the Dead • (2012) • short story by Jason C. Eckhardt
213 • Casting Call • (2012) • short story by Don Webb
231 • The Clockwork King, the Queen of Glass, and the Man with the Hundred Knives • (2012) • short story by Darrell Schweitzer
251 • The Other Man • (2012) • short story by Nicholas Royle
263 • Waiting at the Crossroads Motel • (2012) • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
275 • The Wilcox Remainder • (2012) • short story by Brian Evenson
291 • Correlated Discontents • (2012) • novelette by Rick Dakan
317 • The Skinless Face • (2012) • novelette by Donald Tyson
353 • The History of a Letter • (2012) • short story by Jason V Brock
369 • Appointed • (2012) • short story by Chet Williamson
Volumes 3-6 appear below following A Review of Volume 1…
A Review of Volume 1
Fans of H.P. Lovecraft all know about the Cthulhu Mythos and chances are even if you’re not that familiar with Lovecraft’s tales of terror, you’ve probably heard of “Cthulhu.” That’s because everybody loves Cthulhu (seriously, people love him/it!). So typically when a Lovecraft-inspired anthology is produced, the publisher will go right for more Cthulhu, not only to draw in the average reader, but also because contemporary authors can really make their mark with today’s readers if they offer up a great Cthulhu story.
While slapping a Cthulhu label on a book might be a good marketing strategy, Black Wings of Cthulhu, an anthology of 21 short stories inspired by Lovecraft’s original tales, instead encompasses a lot of aspects of Lovecraft’s writings. Don’t worry, Cthulhu and friends are surely represented and while it’s in the title, it’s not the main focus of this collection — although the big guy is front and center on the book’s gorgeous gold-etched cover.
The Call of Cthulhu
H. P. Lovecraft, 1928
(Found Among the Papers of the Late
Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston)
“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival . . . a survival of a hugely remote period when . . . consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity . . . forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds. . . .” – Algernon Blackwood
The Horror in Clay
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing together of separated things—in this case an old newspaper item and the notes of a dead professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out; certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain. I think that the professor, too, intended to keep silent regarding the part he knew, and that he would have destroyed his notes had not sudden death seized him.
My knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926–27 with the death of my grand-uncle George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages in Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angell was widely known as an authority on ancient inscriptions, and had frequently been resorted to by the heads of prominent museums; so that his passing at the age of ninety-two may be recalled by many. Locally, interest was intensified by the obscurity of the cause of death. The professor had been stricken whilst returning from the Newport boat; falling suddenly, as witnesses said, after having been jostled by a nautical-looking negro who had come from one of the queer dark courts on the precipitous hillside which formed a short cut from the waterfront to the deceased’s home in Williams Street. Physicians were unable to find any visible disorder, but concluded after perplexed debate that some obscure lesion of the heart, induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so elderly a man, was responsible for the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent from this dictum, but latterly I am inclined to wonder—and more than wonder.
If you’re like me, you love a good horror series. Hell, series are cool, period, right? I remember my 1970s collection of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor! I treasured those 19 or 20 comics. Add the amazing artwork and illustrations that a series often comes with, and they’re great! Throw in a great editor and the really good writers, telling their most frightening stories—and series are fantastic!!
I have been collecting Stephen Jones’ The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror since around 2003 and I finally have them all in either hard copy or digital editions. But having more isn’t always easier! I’m always going: Where did I place that one book with the killer vampire story in it? Or which book was that crazy story about the “sticks” in? you know by Wagner?
Well, now-a-days it’s very easy to look things up and put a quick name to a book to a page number … and find just what you’re looking for. But back in the day? It was a treasure hunt!
But look no further—because here is the ultimate Master List (thank you ISFDB & StephenJoneseditor.com) of Tables of Contents from all 28 anthologies!—and the covers!*—almost three decades of great short horror fiction! “That’s gotta be like forty-eight hundred teeth!”
(*If an edition had more than one cover, I’ve included both below.)
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 1, 1990
Table of Contents
xiii • Introduction: Horror in 1989 • [Horror in … Introductions] • (1990) • essay by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell
1 • Pin • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
8 • The House on Cemetery Street • (1988) • novelette by Cherry Wilder
33 • The Horn • (1989) • novelette by Stephen Gallagher
57 • Breaking Up • (1989) • short story by Alex Quiroba
66 • It Helps If You Sing • (1989) • short story by Ramsey Campbell
75 • Closed Circuit • (1989) • novelette by Laurence Staig
93 • Carnal House • (1989) • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
104 • Twitch Technicolor • (1989) • short story by Kim Newman
115 • Lizaveta • (1988) • novelette by Gregory Frost
144 • Snow Cancellations • (1989) • short story by Donald R. Burleson
154 • Archway • (1989) • novelette by Nicholas Royle
176 • The Strange Design of Master Rignolo • (1989) • short story by Thomas Ligotti
189 • …To Feel Another’s Woe • (1989) • short story by Chet Williamson
205 • The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux • (1989) • novelette by Robert Westall
236 • No Sharks in the Med • (1989) • novelette by Brian Lumley
275 • Mort au Monde • (1989) • short story by D. F. Lewis
279 • Blanca • (1989) • novelette by Thomas Tessier
303 • The Eye of the Ayatollah • (1990) • short story by Ian Watson
312 • At First Just Ghostly • [Kane] • (1989) • novella by Karl Edward Wagner
370 • Bad News • (1989) • short story by Richard Laymon
383 • Necrology: 1989 (Best New Horror) • [Necrology (Jones & Newman)] • (1990) • essay by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 2, 1991
Table of Contents
xvii • Introduction: Horror in 1990 • [Horror in … Introductions] • essay by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell
1 • The First Time • (1990) • short story by K. W. Jeter
14 • A Short Guide to the City • (1990) • short story by Peter Straub
25 • Stephen • (1990) • novelette by Elizabeth Massie
47 • The Dead Love You • (1989) • short story by Jonathan Carroll
60 • Jane Doe #112 • (1990) • short story by Harlan Ellison
70 • Shock Radio • (1990) • short story by Ray Garton
89 • The Man Who Drew Cats • (1990) • short story by Michael Marshall Smith
105 • The Co-Op • (1990) • short story by Melanie Tem
115 • Negatives • (1990) • short story by Nicholas Royle
126 • The Last Feast of Harlequin • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1990) • novelette by Thomas Ligotti
159 • 1/72nd Scale • (1990) • novelette by Ian R. MacLeod
185 • Cedar Lane • (1990) • short story by Karl Edward Wagner
194 • At a Window Facing West • (1990) • short story by Kim Antieau
205 • Inside the Walled City • (1990) • novelette by Garry Kilworth
222 • On the Wing • (1990) • short story by Jean-Daniel Brèque
230 • Firebird • (1990) • novelette by J. L. Comeau
252 • Incident on a Rainy Night in Beverly Hills • (1990) • novelette by David J. Schow
272 • His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1990) • short story by Poppy Z. Brite
Creepy collection! A must-read by a stellar author…
“If I’ve read better horror writers than Jones, I’ve forgotten them. He’s at the apex of his game. After the People Lights Have Gone Off is the kind of collection that lodges in your brain like a malignant grain of an evil dream. And it’s just going to be there, forever.” – Laird Barron (The Croining; The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All)
“Stephen Graham Jones is a true master of the horror short story. Inventive, quirky, unexpected and masterful.” – Jonathan Maberry (Fall of Night; Bad Blood)
“Stephen Graham Jones is a great devourer of stories, chewing up horror novels and detective stories and weird fiction, ingesting literature of every type and pedigree, high and low and everything in between. His stories betray his encyclopedic knowledge of genre and of storytelling, but what makes After the People Lights Have Gone Off unique is how Jones never rests among his influences, going beyond what other writers might dare to craft terrors and triumphs all his own.” – Matt Bell (In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods)
Introduction by Joe R. Lansdale
I no longer remember what I first read by Stephen Graham Jones, but it knocked me for a loop. Perhaps it was Demon Theory, which is about movies in a way, written in what some would call an experimental style, and I would call the correct style for the story. That may well have been my first read of Stephen’s work, or perhaps it was one of his short stories, but whatever that first discovery was, I thought, wow, that was good, and it led me to his other works, and pretty soon his was a name I was watching for. I began to gobble his stories and books like a chicken gobbles corn, and if you are unaware of that activity, find a chicken, toss some corn on the ground and watch it work. If you want to be polite, put it in a pan. You’ll get the idea.
Edith Wharton, 1916
“You ought to buy it,” said my host; “it’s just the place for a solitary-minded devil like you. And it would be rather worth while to own the most romantic house in Brittany. The present people are dead broke, and it’s going for a song—you ought to buy it.”
It was not with the least idea of living up to the character my friend Lanrivain ascribed to me (as a matter of fact, under my unsociable exterior I have always had secret yearnings for domesticity) that I took his hint one autumn afternoon and went to Kerfol. My friend was motoring over to Quimper on business: he dropped me on the way, at a cross-road on a heath, and said: “First turn to the right and second to the left. Then straight ahead till you see an avenue. If you meet any peasants, don’t ask your way. They don’t understand French, and they would pretend they did and mix you up. I’ll be back for you here by sunset—and don’t forget the tombs in the chapel.”
I followed Lanrivain’s directions with the hesitation occasioned by the usual difficulty of remembering whether he had said the first turn to the right and second to the left, or the contrary. If I had met a peasant I should certainly have asked, and probably been sent astray; but I had the desert landscape to myself, and so stumbled on the right turn and walked across the heath till I came to an avenue. It was so unlike any other avenue I have ever seen that I instantly knew it must be the avenue. The grey-trunked trees sprang up straight to a great height and then interwove their pale-grey branches in a long tunnel through which the autumn light fell faintly. I know most trees by name, but I haven’t to this day been able to decide what those trees were. They had the tall curve of elms, the tenuity of poplars, the ashen colour of olives under a rainy sky; and they stretched ahead of me for half a mile or more without a break in their arch. If ever I saw an avenue that unmistakably led to something, it was the avenue at Kerfol. My heart beat a little as I began to walk down it.
Presently the trees ended and I came to a fortified gate in a long wall. Between me and the wall was an open space of grass, with other grey avenues radiating from it. Behind the wall were tall slate roofs mossed with silver, a chapel belfry, the top of a keep. A moat filled with wild shrubs and brambles surrounded the place; the drawbridge had been replaced by a stone arch, and the portcullis by an iron gate. I stood for a long time on the hither side of the moat, gazing about me, and letting the influence of the place sink in. I said to myself: “If I wait long enough, the guardian will turn up and show me the tombs—” and I rather hoped he wouldn’t turn up too soon.
I sat down on a stone and lit a cigarette. As soon as I had done it, it struck me as a puerile and portentous thing to do, with that great blind house looking down at me, and all the empty avenues converging on me. It may have been the depth of the silence that made me so conscious of my gesture. The squeak of my match sounded as loud as the scraping of a brake, and I almost fancied I heard it fall when I tossed it onto the grass. But there was more than that: a sense of irrelevance, of littleness, of futile bravado, in sitting there puffing my cigarette-smoke into the face of such a past.