Winnie the Eldritch Horror

I saw this post on Facebook and decided I had to do something about it. Please enjoy:

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23 years ago, I made a tragic error. You might say I wasn’t to blame, an ignorant child with a wild imagination. No one in their right mind would blame me.

Except I blame me.

Perhaps I am not in my right mind, although, I have wondered about that for years.

They called it the Hundred Acre Woods even though it was well over that by more than double. It was believed that centuries ago it had been named the most generic name possible to hide a deadly secret.

My parents didn’t care what I did during the days as long as I went to school and was home by dinner and it was on such a fateful evening that I heard the voice whispering from the Hundred Acre Woods.

Before then, the woods and I had never crossed paths. The fastest route to school was the path at the north side of the property and the woods themselves were dark and a terrifying place for a child’s imagination.

Children know things, even when they do not listen.

The whisper sounded urgent, almost scared, and I was not one to leave someone alone in the dark. Dropping my bag at the edge of the forest, and bringing only my small yellow bear, I climbed several sticks and teetered my way toward the sound.

The tree was dark and looked older than anything I knew of. The age of things was beyond me, but even in my diminutive years I could tell that this tree was unique. For reasons that I still do not understand, I began to refer to it as the First Tree.

Owl would choose to live in the First Tree.

The hole in the base of the tree was where the voice was coming from and this close I still could not make out what was being said. In both fear and curiosity, I placed my head into the hole.

One voice became many and they were too loud. Through the cacophony of sound, I chose one and tried to focus my attention. This was the voice of a woman and filled with the gentle attitude of motherly affection and yet I could not help but feel terrified of it.

The voice had a gift that it wanted to give me. A small thing to it but something unimaginable to a child. She wanted to bring my toys to life while they were in the woods. She wanted to give me friends and fun and adventures that no one could compete with. All that she asked in return was that I bring her things.

Without knowing anything more, I shouted “Yes!”

Her first offering was a strand of my hair.

I write this now because I can not pay her most recent request.

Over the years, my toys evolved. They grew more daring, more dangerous, and from time to time I found them bringing the First Tree animals or gems. I would wake in the night to see Pooh Bear, my best friend, dragging a racoon into the Hundred Acre Woods.

As a child, I couldn’t fathom what she wanted them for. Perhaps a coat, if she had a body. Or was she a spectral emanation and wished only to feel the warmth of other creatures. It was obvious that she was tethered to her location in the First Tree. Perhaps she wished to know what things outside of her vision looked like.

I did not know.

Pooh’s evolution took ten years to complete. By the time I was in my early adolescence, he was five times larger than when I originally brought him to the First Tree. His hands were stained red and I assumed it must be from the mud or tree sap. Perhaps all of that honey.

Piglet has vanished. Rabbit has begun collecting the ears of things he discovers. The ears of people have started to appear in his garden. Eeyore has laid down and splayed his belly open, silently waiting for animals to step into his insides for warmth before he snaps it shut. He rarely moves.

Tigger is the most terrifying. No longer the fun-loving tiger with the bounce, his tail has become a tentacle of sorts. His limbs have become entirely useless and shriveled as he uses his formerly glorious tail to wrangle food and things into his jaw.

If I aim a light into the woods at night, I can see him swinging between the trees.

The voice in the First Tree has sent Pooh to my home to collect her offering. Over the years, I have brought her dogs, cats, and even robbed cemeteries on two occasions for fresh corpses.

Today she asks too much.

“Christopher,” my old friend’s voice echoes through the house as my family and I huddle in the corner of my closet. “Christopher Robin? Mother only wants to meet your daughter. Bring her to me please?”

Tigger’s voice, gnarled by age and something darker, joined.

“Yeth, Chriftopher Robin! Bring uth your daughter. Come on, chum! For old time’th thake.”

NaNoWriMo Update

NaNo has been off to a great start this month.

The last few years have been about using NaNo to finish works that were in stasis, and this month started off similarly. I’ve been working on a Broken Nights short story for a collected works anthology and when I started NaNo that story had no third act. Luckily enough, NaNo’s first three days gave me the oomph that I needed to get that story done and it has since been sent to the editor of the upcoming Anthology. Stay tuned for more information on that book and when it is coming out. If you’re interested in reading the first draft of that story, it’s up on my Patreon.

After the Broken Nights anthology story was done, I was able to jump right into the next and entirely new project.

So, I started off 3 days behind on this project, but I feel like that shouldn’t be a problem. The new project is something that was born in the mind of my brother, Michael. He has never been a Lovecraft guy but we talk a lot about the structure of my stories and he tends to love my Andrew Doran shorts, so he decided that this would be the year he would read Lovecraft. He is now more versed in it than the passive fans out there. The day he had finished his collection of Lovecraft stories, he came to me with the idea that became my NaNoWriMo project.

If you’ve read Drew Hayes’s Super-Powereds, it’s going to be a lot like that. If you haven’t, than Harry Potter would be a good reference as well.

The story is only the first book in a series we have general notes one. The first book is Miskatonic University: Elder Gods 101 and follows 5 students who get random scholarships to attend the famous Arkham school. As it turns out, Miskatonic University is the tack holding our reality in place and someone is trying to unmoor the school. An old book holds the key to saving reality: 5 kids, scions of their heritage, must be brought to the school and embrace who they are so that their bloodlines can be used to restore reality’s permanence. The alternative is invasion from every hellscape imaginable.

Anyway, I’m on chapter 2 now and the Patreon has that and The Esoteric Cavalry novella up. Soon it will have the Broken Nights short on there as well. So, if you don’t want to wait for a lot of fun Mythos and superhero stories, get on over there and take a peek.

–Matt

Regular Release Schedule

I just put the first chapter of the first Esoteric Cavalry novella on the Patreon page.

The Esoteric Cavalry was talked about a lot in book 3 of the Andrew Doran Series, Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares. The modern remnant of it is integral to Andrew’s newest adventure and we talk a very small amount about how they were founded.

That’s where the novella and the novel will be coming in. Hiram Cartwright and his brother Buford travel the untamed west and bring peace to the new world as it is assaulted by the supernatural. They’ll recruit new allies and bicker like only brothers can. Gunfights and monsters and more.

The Patreon page will have see weekly drops of new chapters that I am working on, unedited and straight from my keyboard to your eyes. There are also digital files provided. If you’re a fan, but don’t have the ebooks, just being a patron can get you any of the ebooks you want and you’ll get first dibs on the digital files of the new books that are written too.

After the Esoteric Cavalry novella is done dropping on Patreon, I’m already getting prepared to release a new Broken Nights novella, then we’ll be having a poll where patrons can help me decide on the next story that I write, including finishing Satan’s Salesman 2, a story I’ve been working on with my brother called Miskatonic University: Elder Gods 101, and Wicked West – A Western LitRPG Adventure.

Anything that I have to release, I will regularly do so on the patreon.

The “Team Guardian” tier gets you all the stories as I type them at just $3/month. Subscribe and get more stories faster than through the standard “write, edit, publish, repeat” method and help be part of the creative process by talking to me in the comments!

LitRPG

Just had a fun idea about how to get into LitRPG, which I read a lot of but never have been interested in writing.

My problems are several. I enjoy the worlds of D&D but I don’t know them well enough (or want to do the proper amount of research) to properly write a LitRPG world based on those rules. Then there’s the setting. How would I get someone into the game?

That’s when an idea struck me that also helped solve my “the rules” problem.

I already have a character who lives in an entirely digital world.

Amy Night from the Broken Nights series is an entirely digital person. I can set her up in a potential future where she offers to digitize people who are about to pass away. They can live out their digital eternities in games, browsing the internet, or in entirely fabricated computer worlds of their own designs.

This will let me drop random characters into random games.

I’ve already started piecing together the first story. Wicked West, a LitRPG based on Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that I’m fairly addicted to. Of course, I’ll change everything to make it a unique experience but the story idea is basically a western with modern terminology and leveling up game rules.

Of course, this is for after the current upcoming projects.

Update: October

Hey Matt!

Yes?

Why isn’t Satan’s Salesman 2 done yet?

Great question. Here’s a not so great answer: I got distracted by projects that were way more fun.

Satan’s Salesman 2: The Devil is in the Details, is around 36k words, and looking to round out at 50k. Unfortunately, (fortunate for me) my co-conspirators have all gone above and beyond in providing me with exciting and fun work.

We started doing the anthologies/crossovers a few years ago and they have just been such a fun way to work with like-minded writers and build on our individual worlds with a speed that is exciting. From that, David Hambling and several other co-conspirators I enjoy associating with have come up with a few more anthologies this year. After Tales of Yog-Sothoth and The Book of Yig came out in April, they just didn’t want to stop, and neither did I. We are working on two more Lovecraftian anthologies right now. Then there’s the superhero world. I had intended to be much further along on Broken Nights 3, but along with Satan’s Salesman 2 taking a backseat for the anthologies, Broken Nights 3 was backseated for an upcoming superhero anthology. More Broken Nights stories are coming, just not book 3 yet.

Then my brother went and became an amateur Lovecraftian and joined me in a love of the arcane after reading the majority of the standard Lovecraftian stories. That was a supercharge I hadn’t expected, and out of nowhere my brother came at me with a great story idea. If you’ve read Drew Hayes’s “Super-Powereds,” then think of that, but with college kids whose fates are intricately tied to Lovecraftian Lore. Already plotted out, and already started being typed. We’re thinking of putting the chapters up on Royal Road. Stay tuned.

That’s a lot of projects, and Satan’s Salesman 2 and Broken Nights 3 aren’t off the table, just delayed. Projects with other people involved tend to take precedence over my personal projects.

I’m looking to have the two of the anthologies done in the next few weeks. Then I’ll inform you if I plan on doing the collaboration with my brother or Satan’s Salesman 2 next.

Per usual: Stay Tuned.

FanFic Friday: Zod and Superman Meet

I had a fun idea for a rewrite of the first meeting between Zod and Superman. In my head this is Christopher Reeves and Terrance Stamp.

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General Zod was hovering outside the window to The Daily Planet and Perry White could not figure out why.

The obvious answer was Lois Lane. She had covered Superman since his first arrival in Metropolis and the local villain populace tended to think that threatening her would get a reaction from the man of steel.

Except that the General, who had arrived only days ago demanding that Earth submit to his dictatorship, was demanding Superman meet him outside.

From behind Perry, someone was pushing through the crowd and toward the window.

“Kal-El,” Zod shouted. “I demand that you submit to the leader of New Krypton and help me in taming this land. Come to me, son of Jor-El. Come and kneel before Zod.”

Finally, whoever was shuffling behind Perry touched the Daily Planet’s Editor in Chief on the shoulder and drew his attention from the alien on display.

Clark Kent stood next to him with a look of, what was that? Did he look regretful?

“Sorry, Chief,” Clark said. “I should have told you sooner.” He took of his glasses and handed them to his boss. He gave a quick wink. “You should probably let Lois do the byline. She can fill in any of the gaps.”

“What are you talk-“ Perry started to say as Clark tore open his shirt and stepped up to the window.

As everyone stared at the man sitting on the window sill with his legs hanging out, it was the quietest the bullpen had ever been.

The Superman sitting on the window sill.

“General,” Superman called from where he sat. “I would like to have a word.”

He floated from the window and let the remainders of Clark’s suit fall from him, revealing the rest of his real uniform. His trajectory took him gently to within feet of the General.

“Do you wish to plead for them, Kal-El?” Zod mocked.

Superman shook his head. “No. That’s not it at all.” He crossed his arms. “I am going to tell you how this goes and then give you a choice.”

Zod laughed before saying, “Please, entertain me.”

Superman took a breath.

“First, and this is important, so pay attention; whatever name you think you know me by, that isn’t who I am. My name is Clark, son of John and Martha. If you can’t remember that, then the rest of this isn’t going to much matter.” He cast a quick glance back at Perry, his coworkers, and saw Lois in the back, smiling. “Second, for a great strategic military mind, you seem to have missed a key piece of intel that is going to change the way your day goes.”

“And that is?” The General was still enjoying what he saw as Superman’s posturing.

“The science behind why you and are flying up here.” Superman unfolded his arms and pointed at the sun. “Our cells take solar radiation and convert it into energy that fuels these powers. Except, then how do we fly at night?”

“Our bodies store that energy as well, obviously,” Zod sneered.

Superman smiled. “That’s right. Our cells take in that solar radiation, convert it into energy, and then store that energy.” He drifted closer to Zod and only stopped when he was within arm’s reach. “Remind me, how many days have you been here?”

Realization started to dawn on Zod’s face, but he was incapable of admitting any failing and quickly squashed the foreign emotion that ran through him. He hid his fear.

“Three days,” Superman said. “Your cells have been storing energy for three days. I have been here for my entire life.” His voice got so quiet that no one but Zod could hear what he said next. “I wasn’t hiding to protect my secret. I was trying to protect you.”

“I tire of this,” Zod shouted. “Kneel.”

Superman’s face flashed frustration. Why wouldn’t Zod take the easy route? Why did he have to make this more difficult than it was?

“This is your only warning,” he explained. “Leave now, or take a swing. I’m not bowing and this will be your only free shot.”

The General’s face reddened with rage. With all of his Kryptonian enhanced speed, his fist shot out and connected with Superman’s chin.

Superman didn’t move. Zod swung again, but his fist connected with the open palm of Superman. The man of steel had moved too fast for Zod to see.

“I said you get one,” Superman spoke. His tone was still calm, if a little disappointed.

Zod’s eyes flashed red as they heated up. “You will kneel before me, Kal-“

The General never saw the fist that connected with his face and couldn’t understand how he had ended up on the ground until Superman came hovering toward him.

“My name is Clark, and you were warned.”