Originally published by F. Tennyson Neely in 1895.
Also published online by The Project Gutenberg
Title: The King in Yellow Author: Robert W. Chambers

Banner Artwork above by Shasta Lawton.
Illustration for THE PROPHET'S PARADISE by Eric York,
taken from the collection Carcosa Tenement Blues by Edward Morris

Friday, July 10, 2009

NIGHT FLAMERS

by johnny strike







A dazed, short, fat man with a buzz cut stood in the street, waving a handgun. He turned and fired a shot into the empty doorway of an apartment complex. The gunman then crossed the street and disappeared into the doorway.

A white 1956 Oldsmobile rolled along California Street, using the last of its gas. The cars it passed in the street were all empty. A tour bus and an ersatz cable car, empty as well, stood near the entrance of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. The front tires of the Oldsmobile just made it onto the red brick forecourt of the hotel as the car died.

Two people got out. The driver, Dr. Rodriguez from Buenos Aires, had originally come to California to attend a convention on life extension and present his paper on the results of a study of 17 spider monkeys treated with a synthesis of longevity drugs. The passenger, Rita, a striking Korean beauty and a professional escort and masseuse, had been with the doctor at his hotel at the time of The Invasion. They were among the few thousand who had escaped from Los Angeles. At a hundred miles per hour, they had raced past blackened ruins; the horrible images still remained in their unsettled minds.

In San Francisco, they had seen only one other person: a snarling woman dressed and made up as a clown. Rita had gestured wildly and yelled to her, but the angry clown had run off and disappeared behind a mound of burning debris.

With furrowed brows, Dr. Rodriguez watched Rita walk through the revolving glass door into the lobby of the Mark. Upstairs, they found an open suite and Rita collapsed onto the bed. The doctor looked at the back of her bare thighs and for a moment wanted to caress her. His mind was still racing. He looked at the phone on the night stand; he knew it was dead. He sat on a beige velvet couch and tried the TV remote. Dead, of course. Unable to sleep, Rita moaned, got up, and looked through the closets, where she found pieces of a woman’s wardrobe. In the bathroom, she had a sponge bath, using the water she found in a pitcher. She tried on an elegant silver evening gown. Expressionless, she looked at herself in the full-length mirror. She lit a cigarette. She wondered if she was losing her mind.

Night fell, and an all-encompassing blackness blotted out the city. Dr. Rodriguez and Rita sat by the window, looking out at the sky. They watched a dirigible passing above the Transamerica Building like an enormous, slow, gray bullet. A detachment of soldiers parachuted down to the streets. Lights were attached to their helmets. Their eyes were partially hidden behind tinted wraparounds. Rita felt as if she was watching a deranged, speeded-up film as the soldiers began their methodical search.

In a back yard behind a modest house was a small, black terrier named TJ. The dog was looking wildly at a deep crater. A minute earlier, he had witnessed something emerge from it that had stilled his usually persistent bark. The head had resembled the skull of some extinct denizen of the deep. A pulsing green membrane had run down from its thick neck, circling its dully-gleaming torso. The thing had emitted an ear-splitting screech that had had drowned out TJ’s growl, then it had burst into the sky. The dog ran yelping back into the house. The occupants, his owners, had vanished two days prior. The dog whimpered, lay back down, and continued to wait.

The next morning, TJ, following his instinct, ran off down the empty streets. He stopped at an old house where the garage door was open. The dog smelled food cooking somewhere nearby. Cautiously, he looked in. There stood a little girl who squealed with delight at seeing him, but he ran off in fright. TJ was seeking someone more like his previous masters. He stayed hidden while the girl called out, "Here, doggy. Here, doggy."

A while later, the little girl and two other diminutive people came out of the garage and shut the door behind them. Like the little girl, they, too, were deeply tanned, wore blonde wigs and had white lips. All three wore small backpacks and each carried a little rifle. With anxious brown eyes, TJ watched them walk down the snow-covered street and disappear around a corner.

TJ made his way around to the back of the house and sniffed at the air. He saw two old men sitting on a porch swing, wearing party hats, embracing. The men saw the dog, disengaged, and began inviting him, coaxing him, to approach. TJ wagged his tail and gradually went up onto the porch. One man went inside and came back with a dish of unfamiliar food and a bowl of water. TJ lapped greedily at the water with his small red tongue. As the dog drank, he became aware of an enormous shadow approaching. A loud humming sound came from above and one of the men snatched him up protectively and they all rushed inside.

Freak weather conditions came next. A relentless hot wind from some infernal place was followed by a dusting of pale, yellow snow. The sky was filled with static and, to some of the remaining survivors, the dark clouds began to form faces.





Click Here for Part 5 of SKY PIRATES,
by John Shirley

1 comment:

Archive of Stories
and Authors

Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS

Adam Bolivar's
WYRM'S BLOOD


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL CAME
TO BOSTON



Adam Bolivar's
THE DREAM KEY


Adam Bolivar's
THE WHITE CUP


Adam Bolivar's
THE FOX AND THE THORN


Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee.


Keith Graham's
MIZUKI


Keith Graham's
EVERYTHING BUT
THE OINK



Keith Graham's
FAREWELL TOUR


Keith Graham is a computer programmer,
blues harp player, fellow beekeeper, and
speculative fiction writer. He currently
maintains 45 active websites. He has
published more than 50 stories over
the last six years in venues such as
others. Underground rock music
played an integral part in the early
days of cyberpunk, and The Freezine
of Fantasy and Science Fiction is
excited to have Keith onboard, and
grateful to showcase the premiere
of his passionate story of rock'n'roll
redemption.


John Claude Smith's
BLOOD ECHO SYMPHONIES


John Claude Smith's
NOT BREATHING



John Claude Smith writes weird fiction,
something between Horror and Magic
Realism, most of it psychologically driven.
He's had over 40 tales and over 1100 music
reviews, interviews, and profiles published.
He is currently shopping two novels and
a collection to agents and publishers, all
while starting the third novel. Gotta keep
on keepin' on! Looking forward to Rome
in the not too distant future, but for now,
just looking for the next short story to
be written.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
short story collection Screams From
A Dying World, just published by
Afterbirth Books. David is a hardcore
vegan and tireless environmentalist.
His contributions to the punk horror
scene and the planet in general have
already established him as a bright
new writer and activist to watch out
for. The Freezine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance. David's latest
books include the Wuxia -Pan
(martial arts fantasy) horror
novel called Hunting The Moon Tribe,
already out from Afterbirth Books.;
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies,
[Deadite Press, 2010]; and
[Deadite Press, 2014]

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.

When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found HERE.