From Fungi #18
excerpt from In the Warrens
by Colleen Drippe
...In one corner stood a musical instrument--an adrax, though he called it something else--and on top was displayed another carving.
---I stared--for this was the figure of a man! I had never seen a piece of forbidden art before and this one was not properly done. Even Orsin hesitated to commit the final blasphemy, I thought.
---I could not avoid looking at it. The figure stood, legs apart, some unrecognizable weapon in his hands, with an expression on his face that reminded me of the wapiti. He was a fine, thin man whose open tunic showed the deformity of his torso clearly--the elongated ribcage and prominent breastbone, the ropy muscles taut with effort, attached in a way that was different from those of a true human man. His tousled hair seemed caught by the wind of his movement and his eyes looked ahead and upward to a foe I could not see.
---Something was wrong with the man's bare feet as well, and the weapon he held would not, had it not been for his expression and stance, have seemed a weapon at all--for it was no more than a long strip of what looked to me in my present uneasy state to be animal hide. Finally I was able to turn away.
---"It is a alright, Broslav. That is not an idol. It is but a fancy of mine--a dream from long ago. Like the animals. I call him David."
---He saw that I was still uneasy with the piece--and who could blame me?--and so, taking up a cloth, he covered it...
excerpt from Murder by Long Distance
by Alex Johns
...It was pitch dark on the opposite side until Stone threw a big utility switch that flooded the interior with a harsh, yellow light.
---Huerta stepped through first, passing through the short, five foot tunnel that ran through the inner shell and emerged into the long, dimly curving space beyond. That was as far as he needed to go to prove to Stone that the space had indeed, been used for unauthorized activity. A series of folding tables stood against the outer wall laden with advanced computer equipment now smashed to bits. Piles of books and papers lay scattered about and scores of unidentifiable electrical components were everywhere like the spilled guts of a dead animal.
---"Look," said Stone, pointing to where wiring ran from the computers to a junction box. "This station box is used for local power routing commands!"
---"Yeah, now look over here," said Huerta, pointing at the body that lay sprawled just beyond the work area. "No wonder that door was easy to open, there's been a lot of traffic coming through here."
---Maxwell Larose lay face down in a pool of blood, shot twice in the chest. Huerta saw right away that he'd been killed within the last hour: the body was still warm, rigor mortis hadn't set in and the blood had hardly begun to clot; in fact, it still oozed lazily from the terrible wounds...
excerpt from From Out of the Sea
by Todd H.C. Fischer
"Captain!" called the pilot. "I have something on the radar. I think it's another ship!"
---Moses turned quickly to the pilot, who was leaning from the pilot house, bathed in the red glow of the radar. "Blow the proximity horn!"
---Hamilton covered his ears as the horn blasted out a warning to the other ship that was even then sliding out from a break in the fog. It was older than the Anon, with a hull grown soft and pulpy and tattered sails that billowed mournfully in the night breeze. If there were any crew aboard, they gave no sign of their presence.
---When it became apparent that the strange ship was not coming about, Moses ordered the horn blown again. Still the other ship continued forward until it came to rest with a slight bump along the Anon's starboard side. Seaweed draped its prow and with a bold sweep of his hand, Hamilton brushed it aside revealing the ship's name.
---"The Yinigther," he said, not without difficulty.
---"What language do you suppose..."
---But Moses never had the chance to finish his question as a scream cut the night air...
excerpt from Ickphisias
by Harry Cumming
On the highest mountain of the moon
there lives a very lonely vampire
Ickphisias by name
He once had many acquaintances
but one by one, of course,
he had put them all to sleep.
And now he lives in dread isolation
amid dead, cratered vastness
and his long wail of loneliness pierces
the long lunar night
a night which is eternal,
a blackness which begins in his heart
and spreads its solitary tendrils across
the whole dark side of the moon...
excerpt from Fungi's list of the greatest fantasy films of the century
by Pierre Comtois
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956): Although frequently claimed as being a cold war fable filled to the brim with our parents' supposed paranoias regarding the communist threat and the A-bomb, it's nothing of the kind. Granted, it has an underlying theme of the value of human emotions, especially love, but mostly this film is a solid adaptation of the novel by Jack Finney which, sub-text aside, is a rollicking good SF thriller of mounting suspense! Shot in crisp black and white, the direction transforms the sleepy town of Santa Mira into a beachhead for an alien invasion.
Curse of the Demon (1958): Our first straight horror entry on the list, but this one's a doozy! Director Jacques Tourneur turns in a classy effort with this b-film, due to his evocative and brilliant use of crisp, black and white cinematography. Turning on a clever twist in the plot, this is a first rate adaptation of M.R. James' Casting the Runes and performances by a solid cast doesn't hurt either!
The Legend of Hell House (1973): Another horror entry scripted by Richard Matheson from his novel of the same name is a thinly disguised remake of Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House and may have been intended as Matheson's take on themes raised in that book. (If anyone out there knows the answer, let us know!) Quite possibly the scariest movie ever made, Roddy McDowall and Pamela Franklin lead us through the morbid history of Hell House to its bizarre climax. Moody directions and music throughout add to the terror. Avoid watching alone or with the lights out!
Cat People (1942): Moody, evocative direction once again by Jacques Tourneur makes this throw away b-film memorable with sultry Simone Simon (and her wonderful accent!) caught in a story fraught with sexual tension. Memorable scenes include: Jane Randolph's lonely walk along nighted streets with the sudden sound of a bus door opening sure to lift anyone out of their seats and later, Randolph again, being stalked by an unseen cat creature that forces her into the basement pool of a shadowy health club. Was it Simon in her cat persona or Randolph's imagination? You be the judge!
Cover art for Fungi #18 by Gregorio Montejo
From Fungi #17
by Joseph Setti
I was walking in the high, sweet sunlight of a Thracian field when I came upon a fallen idol.
---The head lay in the uncut grass, the beauty of its visage disfigured and chipped. One eye looked up at me blindly, emotionlessly. Nearby, a limbless torso leaned against a vacant pedestal: scattered about in the trampled turf, were fragments of Grecian marble.
---I heard a sound. It came with a dreadful regularity, like the tolling of a funereal bell. I moved on.
---It was sunset when I reached the garden, all foliage and blossom. Deep in the shrubbery, night birds clicked and cooed in hidden nests and stately elm and willow trees swayed in unseen breezes.
---But from among these natural delights there rang a sinister note. The beat and thump of a mattock upon stone.
---As I walked deeper into the garden, passing through mazes of ivy and holly, along overgrown walls and half-hidden stoneware, I discovered the shattered remnants of statuary, carven beauty now lying in pieces on the ground. In the midst of such rancorous spoliation, my apprehension grew.
---At last I debauched upon an open area, bounded by a phalanx of colonades and overhung with thick strands of moss reddened in the dying sunlight. Here, more empty pedestals offended my eye. Only rubble lay at their feet. I wept when I recognized a shattered David, a broken Hercules, a chipped and cracked Pieta.
---And amidst the destruction I beheld a woman of most compelling beauty. She paused, mattock in hand when she saw me, an as yet untouched Moses seated before her.
---"Why do you smash these objects of beauty that only adorn our lives and inspire us when we falter?"
---"There is no more Beauty," she said simply.
---"No more beauty? But are not women as lovely today as ever they were in the days of Troy and Nineveh? Are not the lines of our towers of stone and glass as sublime as those of Cheops and Babylon? Are the seas not as blue, the forests as green as they were in the days of Jason and Ulysses?"
---"All that is true," she admitted. "But physical beauty is a shell, a passing outline that alters itself over time. Physical beauty is mutable not eternal."
---"Then what is true beauty?"
---"Beauty is transcendental. It is the beauty of a clear mind, a pure soul, an even temper, a tranquil nature."
---I thought of the world as it had become, the crudeness and impatience, the superficiality.
---"The definition of beauty is left to the media of print and electricity, video and audio, film and tape. The ennobling spirit that creates timeless beauty, whether in an infant or a crone, has been surrendered to the moneychangers. Where now, in these latter days, are the creators of beauty, those strivers for perfection?" She lifted her mattock again. "They have been replaced by the blind and the dull. Art has prostituted itself until it can only reflect the warped, cubist images of spirits turned ugly in an age where the meaning of beauty has been forgotten."
---She moved closer to Moses, sitting quietly in the gloom, holding close his tablets.
---"For the second time, men have proven themselves unworthy to receive them," said the woman, nodding toward the tablets. "For millennia the tablets have served to guide men on the path to a transcendental beauty only to have been forsaken in the hubris of ignorance."
---She took a breath and I knew the shattering blow would come next, so I stopped her.
---"Wait!" I said. "Let me help."
excerpt from The Hades Box
by Gregory Luce
...As I climbed out of the wagon, I saw Earl hop up on a large object in the middle of the truck bed.
---It was a large, rust-covered iron container.
---It looked like a big iron bread box--four feet wide, three feet tall, and four feet deep, standing on four short metal legs. An incredibly heavy object, it was completely sealed all the way around except for the front side which had a top-hinged iron door that appeared to swing outward and up from the bottom. There was just one problem: no handle. There was however, a long lever protruding out of a narrow slit on the top side of the container. On one side of the slit was a series of slots--settings for the lever. The lever itself extended down, disappearing into the black interior of the container. Earl figured it connected to some inner-mechanism that was used in opening the container and if pulled all the way back, would cause the front door to swing open.
---...Earl squatted down and began to pull back on the lever. It didn't budge. He strained hard, beads of sweat popping out of his forehead, but it still didn't move.
---There was a hammer laying on top of the cab, so I hoisted myelf up and grabbed it. I moved over to the container. "Here...I'll loosen that thing up for you. Lemme take a whack at it."
---...I took the hammer and gave the container a good rap on the side. My ears were greeted with a deep, hollow sound, far too deep for the size of the object. It resonated for several seconds before fading.
---I banged on the lever several times with the hammer, then I climbed up on top and dropped to one knee, wrapping both hands around the lever.
---Just as I was about to pull, something caught my eye. Painted on top, near the front end of the slit where the lever was stuck, was a faded set of words: KEEP LOCKED IN THIS POSITION.
---At the other end of the slit, next to the rear slot, were more painted words. These were just as faded and read: FULL OPEN.
---We positioned ourselves on either side of the lever, wrapping our hands around it. We pulled and jerked as hard as we could, but the lever refused to budge...Suddenly the handle gave a little. The lever began sliding, ever so slightly, toward the rear. As it inched back, there was a high-pitched metal on metal grating sound as the front door began to swing forward. The lever slipped over to the next slot and dropped in...
excerpt from The Final Asylum
by Vera Searles
The people without any faces lived together in the Building in the City. All the men had rooms on the first floor, and all the women lived on the second floor, except if they were coupled, then they would share one of the larger places at the back. There was a Building like this in each City on the Planet.
---When Ken finally obtained his Admission Permit from the Government, he took an aerocab to the Building. The lobby was almost dark, but he was able to sense the scanner. He fed his records through, and a voice said, "Welcome, Kenneth Jenkins, go straight ahead down the hall, Room 105."
---"Thank you," he said through his once-mouth opening, picking up his suitcase and moving forward. The hallway, too, was almost dark, except for a few randomly placed low-burning lights. Ken supposed they were needed when there were visitors. He sensed his way to room 105 and went in.
---He sat on the bed with his head in his hands, his body almost trembling with relief. He was so thankful to be here at last...People without faces didn't like windows. They didn't like daylight, or any kind of light, because then the people with faces could see them. The people without any faces didn't like to be seen because of the horror-howl...
From Fungi #16
excerpt from Away, Foul Night
by Colleen Drippe
..."The Drexx," Darrow had said to the general in answer to a question Ashe had not heard, "are mutated Terran stock, natives of Delta Six, a satellite of the fourth planet of Sirius. We buy them young and train them here."
---Ashe could not remember the storm-tossed skies of Delta Six nor the tribeswoman who bore him. There was only the Institute and the pack, and lupe. But that was enough, he had been told, wasn't it?
---The general had risen to go. It had been a visit of form, one always made physical contact with the actual agent. It was for luck, perhaps, or the unconscious assumption of personal responsibility, the transmission of guilt. Ashe had shaken the general's hand at parting.
---"Good luck, Ashe," Steyn had said.
---Ashe had not wanted the general's good wishes. He was occupied already in rebuilding El Greco's city within his own mind, placing each tower, each roof, edged or plain, each window and door just so. Thus would it stand for all of his life and beyond, with the clouds above and the river below, his own place, the home he had never had.
---Five minutes. The first marchers appeared blocks away, coming steadily nearer. More followed. There was a band. The crowd cheered, the noise rising to a crescendo as a military floater began to wind its way along the boulevard.
---Then came the open car, drifting noiselessly between marching guardsmen. The cheering became words: Ander Vos! Ander Vose!
---Ashe sighted on the man in the car and an angular face swam into his view, balding, jut-nosed, a pipe clenched between white teeth. Another General Steyn, they were all the same, really. The cross hairs focused on the forehead, then lower down on the neck. Ashe
excerpt from The Crickets
by David Barker
The Chirping of the crickets was abnormally loud; its heavy, nocturnal rhythms began hypnotizing him after a while. Listening closer, he heard two distinct ryhthms: a faster, high-pitched one and--layered over that--a slower, deeper one. It went on maddeningly, endlessly, throughout the night.
---Dusk had teemed with insects, the glow of the porch light attracting ever increasing numbers until they were legion. Now it seemed all of them were pressed flat against the screens, seeking entrance.
---It was hot inside the cabin. Bill Kuger had the doors wide open. The fan didn't do much good--it just moved around the stagnant air. His sweat-dampened shirt clung like a second skin.
---Across the room, the tv picture flipped in a continuous roll, the sound turned off. He could make no sense of the succession of distorted images, and was too distracted to pay them any attention. Not while the pitchy black pushed against the rectangular orifices of the doors and windows, and the crickets droned without cessation.
---They were like insane, tuneless musicians who would not stop and could not be ignored...
From Fungi #15
excerpt from A Florentine Dialogue
by Pierre Comtois
...At last, I came to the end of a corridor which had terminated in an arched doorway. Light streamed in from a columned veranda from which I could just see the wooded hills of Tuscany. I stepped into the room, its ceiling arched, and saw a man sitting on a stone chair or throne draped in purple cloth. I gasped, not in surprise at his nudity, but on the sheer perfection of his physical form.
---He sat upon his purple throne, still as the stone from which his seat had been carved, contemplating me. The room was as naked as he was, and yet his physical presence made it seem grander than the Sistine Chapel. Seeing him, Michaelangelo would have had to reconsider his David, Donatello his St. George and Rodin his Thinker. And when he moved, it startled me. Such a human perfection, I was convinced, was impossible and for those first few moments in his presence, I had convinced myself that it was so. To actually see him move, to see the play of light and subtle shadow across those perfect surfaces, that perfect musculature, was like seeing the Belvedere torso, complete in limb and form, come to life. He straightened a bit, leaning back and resting this upper body weight on an elbow just so; and when he spoke, it was of the perfect timbre, striking just the right chords in a listener to evoke the moods and emotions he desired they have.
---"Buonjorno, Signor Creedon," he said.
---"Who are you?" was all I could muster.
---"I am the Adam Qadmon, Signor Creedon," he replied...
by Henry J. Vester III
I have not known a mother's kiss,
A father's hand upon my head.
But I have seen the dragons dance
And held deep concourse with the dead.
No maiden's eyes have sought my own,
No children clamber on my knees.
But I have loved a time-lost queen,
Felt her caresses on the breeze.
These walls are those I've always known,
Nor have I travelled from this place.
Yet I have crossed the starless void
And wandered undimensioned space.
Now I am old and soon to die
But I fear not the night's dark wave.
The dreams I've treasured all my life
Shall comfort me within the grave.
excerpt from Flawed Blossom and Withered Leaf
by Edward O'Brien
...Last night, rather late, I saw a shocking thing. Before retiring for the evening, I took a stroll about the castle. Coming upon an open doorway of an attractive oratory, I went inside, admiring the furnishings, statuary and altarpiece. Another door at the far end of the room stood open a crack, so I went up to it and peered through to another chamber. What I saw nearly unhinged me.
---That fey crone, Morgan, was standing by a sideboard talking with the most outlandish figure imaginable. A strange knight dressed all in green stood near Morgan; a tall and B figure, full of puissance. Ghastly green he was, even his skin and hair. He held a long, cruel-edged axe in one hand. Despite his menacing energy, it was hard to tell whether he was one of the living or the dead. There stood the one who had boldly invaded Arthur's hall; now here at Hautdesert.
---Hag and monster were speaking in courtly French. It were grotesque to hear such a gruesome pair speak in that lovely tongue...
---The Green Knight seemed like a phantom from Faeryland, all the while glittering weirdly in the candleflames that were tilting unnaturally near his alien presence. Uncanny scene! After a long look, I quietly hastened back to my room...
From Fungi #13
excerpt from The Whole Schmeer
by David Daniel
...Twenty-five thousand for a single cross-country run was good dough. Still, he had a policy of knowing what it was he hauled in his 18-wheeler. It wasn't only policy, he told them. There were professional ethics, his reputation...
---"Tell me more," he said.
---The woman drummed her fingers on a clipboard, clamped to which were the contract and the security clearances he would need. "Technically speaking, the cargo isn't actually dangerous," she said.
---"Why me then?"
---"Because the cargo is delicate...and valuable."
---"And you have a reputation for excellent driving," the man added. "We read about you last month--the lion story?"
---"That was pretty hairy," Ross admitted.
---"But animals are one thing," he pointed out. "And we're not talking animals here, are we?"
---The woman said, "It's difficult to explain the nature of what we'd like you to carry. It's an experiment, and the next series of tests has to be perfromed at Cal Tech."
---..."To explain the precise nature of our experiment would require a textbook," the woman said. "And I'm afraid you'd need post-doctoral study in math and astrophysics to understand."
---"To generalize, however," the man said grandly, "you'd be transporting a piece of the universe..."
excerpt from Oahula the Carnivorous
by Delysle-Ferree Cass
So they shut the white castaway up in a palm-thatched hut and fed him upon the best that the island afforded, so that in time his strength and vitality came back to him, the color returned to his bronzed cheeks and the sparkle to his eyes.
---...Now the white man had been long in the archipelago and in his wanderings to and fro had picked up many of the native dialects. He saw how it was with the girl there beside him, and the hope took shape that in some way he might move her to help him.
---Since she seemed to love him, he would assume an equal passion. He poured forth a torrent of words in half Maori, half Samoan patois, and saw that he was making himself understood.
---"I love you. I will cherish you as never man did woman before. I will kiss your knees hourly as I lie drinking in the beauty and grace of you. I will...oh, save me! save me! You will not let them eat me, who loves you so?"
---It was high tide with Oahula's passion. She was submerged, carried away with it. The white man's words were sweeter to her than the perfume of valleys full of flowers. She believed his protestations because it was her desire to do so. She became as anxious to save him as he was himself anxious to be saved.
---"I will deliver you from the flesh-pot," she said, trying to calm him. "Across the fire-mountain on the other side of the island there are the stone images and mystic wall-writings of a Dead People. Devils haunt the place and the young men of my father never go there for fear of them. If you could get there you would be safe, for they would never dare follow you...they would not dream that you would venture there."
---...That night they made their escape...
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