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Archive for the ‘451 ePublishing Haus’ Category

Rose Blood: The Phantasmagoriad Book One – An Anti-Verse Tale by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on October 28, 2017

451 ePublishing Haus CategoryRose Blood: The Phantasmagoriad Book One – An Anti-Verse Tale by Peter Guy Blacklock

Rose Blood, this debut novel by Peter Guy Blacklock, is the first book in a trilogy of breakneck, erotically charged, Gothic fairy-tales set in an alternate world full of gruesome horrors, dark fantasies, twisted trysts and hard-boiled heroics; peopled with unique characters, many of whom subvert genre norms, and steeped in authentic occult lore. The gripping story, which hooks from the start, unfolds in and around the eldritch environs of an archaic primeval forest that lingers across a huge swathe of the Britannik Isles – a dark parallel of Britain in the early 1700s.

Rose Blood Cover

A chance accident on the road home from finishing-school thrusts a sheltered Rebekah into a violent, desperate and rapidly escalating struggle involving disturbingly prescient dreams, sensual vampiric bloodletting, the brutal kidnap of her sister, the wanton murder-by-troll of her father and the wicked sorceries of an arcane Machiavellian evil from the distant land of Kanaan. With the unlikely aid of a rogue vampire named Mikael, his ghostly lover, Lilith, an old wizard traveller – and agent of the state – called Arkturon and an occult specialist Ranger, the dark-elf Corporal Villovürt; she must set out to rescue Luwsiy, her young sister, from the diabolical machinations of an ancient and powerful sorcerer named Bäliyl Samiyl and his three deadly daughters, Aggareth, Maqlath and Igymeth.

The wizard-led band of assorted and unlikely heroes travel a wayward path that traverses strange otherworldly realms – while a troop of hardened Rangers, led by the stalwart Sergeant D’Geai Rinawn from the deserts of Namib, pursue the same goal on more temporal ground through the ancient, goblin and troll infested Old Forest beset with magical traps and dangers. The two groups follow their respective paths, one beaten by wizardry and wisdom, the other by sword, blunderbuss and brawn.

As well as being part of a trilogy, this novel is the first in a whole series of tales set within the same alternate world that parallels our own. These Anti-Verse Tales will take place in different times and technological periods past, present and future, but are still firmly within the same mirror universe, the convincing magical reality of which is a benighted and bewitching reflection of the histories, myths, legends and folklore of our own world.

Rose Blood Promo 1

Warning: contains extreme themes and situations of a profane, violent, horrific and sexual nature. Expect adult language and situations as well as overt violence and gore!

Buy and download the PDF eBook
(ideal for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle and Kindle Fire)

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(ideal for Kindle and Kindle Fire or any device with the free MobiPocket Reader)

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(ideal for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, NOOKs, Sony Reader and Other eReaders)

You can also purchase, or get a free sample of, this eBook at Smashwords
(in PDF, MOBI, EPUB, IRF and PDB formats)

Or, if you prefer, buy the KINDLE version (on pre-order till Halloween 2017) on Amazon.

If you have read and enjoyed Rose Blood please rate and leave a review at Smashwords or GoodReads to help spread the word so that others can enjoy it too.

Moon Shade: The Phantasmagoriad Book Two
Moon Shade will be the second book in the Phantasmagoriad trilogy, and the second Anti-Verse Tale to be published in eBook format. It is currently being written.

Subscribe to this blog to keep abreast of further updates and additions to the Anti-Verse Tales of Peter Guy Blacklock AKA Harbinger451. Please feel free to comment on and/or discuss the content of this post, or of the book Rose Blood itself, by leaving a reply below.

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Posted in 451 ePublishing Haus, Gaea Parallaxis | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Anti-Verse Tales series of eBooks and Web-fictions by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on October 24, 2017

451 ePublishing Haus CategoryThe Anti-Verse Tales series of eBooks and Web-fictions by Peter Guy Blacklock

Introducing the Anti-Verse Tales, an ongoing series of short stories, novellas and novels from Peter Guy Blacklock in both eBook and web-fiction formats – set within the Anti-Verse that is Gaea Parallaxis. The Anti-Verse is not another universe, it is simply the flip side of ours, equal and opposite… a dark Alternate World intrinsically bound to ours, mirroring the myths, legends and folklore of our own.

These tales, set in different times and technological periods past, present and future, but firmly within the same universe, will invariably contain extreme themes and situations of a profane, violent, horrific or sexual nature. Expect adult language and situations as well as overt violence and gore! You have been warned.

The Anti-Verse TalesWhat and Where is the Anti-Verse?

There have always been tales – in fable, legend and myth – of other worlds; running side by side with our own, and yet somehow within, beyond or beneath it. Whether we call it the Netherworld, the Underworld, the land of Fairy or the land of the gods – whether it be a place of dreams or a place of nightmares, or even a place of the dead. Ever since humanity has had the capacity to imagine and to wonder, there has been an ‘other’ world – and that otherworld is the Anti-Verse.

Modern science has made great leaps in explaining the observable universe but there is so much that is still beyond our ability to observe. Though we are constantly expanding the limitations of our perception with advances in technology and even, some may argue, with ‘mind altering’ drugs, it is estimated that the matter (in the form of mass & energy) that we can see, or is illuminated, represents only four percent of the universe in which we live. Another twenty-three percent or so, is thought to be composed of what is termed dark-matter. That is, matter that we cannot see – meaning that it is not being made evident by either its own light or by the emitted or reflected light of other, more conventional matter such as stars or galaxies. Generally, it is assumed, the majority of this mysterious dark-matter is locked up within black-holes, dead stars and planets, or is simply present in vast, diffuse clouds of none illuminated dust. Spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, are now thought to exist within roughly spherical halos or cloud bubbles of dark-matter particles.

So, what of the other seventy-three percent? I hear you ask. Here, we are forced to consider the even more mysterious dark-energy: the unexplained, and possibly inexplicable, repulsive or inflationary energy (force or quality) of the vacuum of space. Which must exist to explain the apparent acceleration of the rate of expansion of the observable universe and that is somehow counteracting the force of gravity. Its fundamental nature, however, is anyone’s guess! The possibility that dark-energy may involve interactions between the standard three spatial dimensions that we see (the classic x, y & z) and extra spatial dimensions that we don’t, may go some way to account for the strange properties of otherwise empty space.

String theorists have suggested there may be many more dimensions at play in the universe than the standard three of space and one of time, which comprise the four-dimensional space-time continuum in which we, and the observable universe, exist and interact. String Theory relies on the supposition that the basic quanta of sub-atomic particles are not so much a point, as they are envisioned in our space-time continuum, but are in fact line-like strings running through our continuum along an extra dimension we cannot, as yet, perceive.

The related M-Theory follows on from this and postulates that the different properties of quanta are defined by the harmonies of these strings. They vibrate within extra-dimensional planes (or membranes – composed of two extra dimensions) or are even resonating within other multi-dimensional continua (composed of three, four or possibly more extra dimensions). M-Theorists suggest that there may be at least six extra spatial dimensions beyond our mundane three, and therefore numerous planes and continua are potentially operating in conjunction with ours, but about which we may never know more of than their existence by inference.

Since the production of antimatter quanta in particle accelerators, the possibility of an antiverse has been suggested, a universe the exact opposite (sub-atomically at least) of our own. We could never physically travel to such an anti-verse of course, for as soon as an ordinary particle comes into contact with its anti-matter counterpart; they annihilate each other in a burst of energy. Perhaps this anti-verse exists within its own extra-dimensional continuum running parallel, or more accurately parallax, with ours. If we are not able to physically travel there, perhaps a shift in consciousness or perception is all that is needed to experience this other world… in fact, many of us may have already done so. There are numerous unexplained phenomena that may simply be a case of altered states of consciousness or perception that have allowed us glimpses of another, essentially alien but somehow strangely familiar, aspect of our own universe. This ‘otherworld’, and one may assume potentially many others, has always been there – out of sight, but not necessarily out of mind.

Perhaps, hypothetically at least, extra-dimensional gossamer threads link positive quanta at one end to negative quanta at the other. Likewise negative quanta in this world links to positive in that, the polar ends of these invisible strings mirroring each other. By these fundamental bonds of nature the two mirror worlds would be inextricably bound.

So the Anti-Verse is a dark mirror image of our own universe, in many ways very similar to it, manifesting as it does along the same dimension of time as ours – but its three spatial dimensions are not the same as those that form our continuum. It is an otherworld which operates in a continuum that is, in effect, a reflection of our own – opposite and yet beside us, beyond and yet around us, poles apart but less than a hair’s breadth away. Throughout history we have been provided with glimpses of this otherworld; in our myths, legends and folklore, our fantasies, dreams and nightmares – even in our encounters with ghosts, fairy folk, cryptids and other unexplained phenomena… through these, the Anti-Verse has been revealed.

(from the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane)

Gaea Parallaxis

Gaea Parallaxis: the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane

This serialized techno-gothic sci-fi fantasy-horror-comedy set in the Anti-Verse that is Gaea Parallaxis is probably the best place to start within the Anti-Verse Tales. The chronicles detail the weird adventures of the amnesiac narrator, a 21st century stranger in a strange land, known only as No Name Kane, in the familiar and yet ultimately alien world that he has found himself mysteriously transported to. The testaments detail No Name Kane’s attempts to make sense of and record the peculiarities, cultures and societies of this strange parallel world and wider universe that he has rationalised as the Anti-Verse.
Click HERE to read the ongoing saga of Gaea Parallaxis free online.

Rose Blood Cover

Rose Blood: The Phantasmagoriad Book One

Rose Blood is the first ebook release set within the Anti-Verse and it is the first novel in a trilogy that comprise the Phantasmagoriad. Each of these novels are (and will be) breakneck, erotically charged, Gothic fairytales full of gruesome horrors, dark fantasies, twisted trysts and hard-boiled heroics; peopled with unique characters, many of whom subvert genre norms, and steeped in authentic occult lore. The gripping story presented in Rose Blood, which hooks from the start, unfolds in and around the eldritch environs of an archaic primeval forest that lingers across a huge swathe of the Britannik Isles – a dark Anti-Verse parallel of Britain in the early 1700s. The second novel, Moon Shade, is currently being written and will be released soon.
Click HERE (or read the following blog post) for more information about Rose Blood and where to buy it.

Future Anti-Verse Tales Projects

As well as the continuation of the Phantasmagoriad trilogy of eBooks mentioned above, I will be starting an exclusive ongoing web-fiction work on my Patreon site HERE – for subscribers only – entitled The Parallaxed World. This tale started life as an early (and originally shelved) version of Gaea Parallaxis detailing the spoof 19th century steam-punk adventures of a Victorian London Detective, Harold ‘Harry’ Thurston after he is transported through an eerie maelstrom mid Atlantic into the Anti-Verse.

 

Subscribe to this blog to keep abreast of further updates and additions to the Anti-Verse Tales of Peter Guy Blacklock AKA Harbinger451. Please feel free to comment on and/or discuss the content of this post, or the Anti-Verse Tales generally, by leaving a reply below.

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Copyright © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


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Sneak Peek at Occult-Noir Horror Short Story: “Crucifixions Continue!” by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on July 8, 2017

The Horror of it All CategorySneak Peek at Occult-Noir Horror Short Story: “Crucifixions Continue!” by Peter Guy Blacklock

Here’s another sneak-peek at one of the short stories from the upcoming Dollar Dreadful Volume Two ebook, this one is titled Crucifixions Continue, a short Occult-Noir horror story in two parts, the first of which – as with The Ninth Watcher in the previous post – is presented below. You can read the whole thing on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming ebook.

Crucifixion-Continue

An Infamous Serial Killer Strikes Again!

Crucifixions Continue!

Part One: Death.

‘Crucifixions Continue!’ The headline was emblazoned across the front page of Tuesday’s Evening Standard. Nick Kaufman couldn’t believe his eyes… a nauseous ache permeated from the pit of his stomach as he picked up a copy of the newspaper.

It had to be a mistake… a joke, he thought, a sickening joke!  But no, there it was, the story in full.  There had been another murder – a copycat killing though, it had to be!

He stood there in the small, warm shop, his local convenience store, and read the story through a full three times before he could allow himself to believe it was true. It was approaching 4 pm and this was Nick’s last port of call before heading home after his New Year Bank Holiday weekend away.

He read, ‘The Crucifixion Killer strikes again after three years.’ That was a term that this very newspaper had coined back then, after the third murder to be precise, the tag had stuck – ‘crucifixion killer’ sounded good to the hacks in tabloid land and the Great British public were suckered right into it. The Crucifixion Killer was the Bogeyman from there on in.

‘Nine victims was not enough for this serial killer, will another eight now fall victim to this ritual executioner?  Can the police do anything to stop him?’ Outrageous scare-mongering was the back bone that supported the tabloids and the Evening Standard was not going to be out done in the first breaking of a truly sensational story. Nick bought some milk and rushed out onto the frosty High Street, heading home, his mind a riot of conflicting thoughts. He was drawn back to the story in the paper, sickening disbelief still getting the better of him. He had thought it was all over, it had ended at 9 am on the 9th of September three years ago with the ninth victim, that was symmetry… a tidy ending – but now they’re starting again?

It’s not possible! Nick nearly shouted aloud.

Calm down, he told himself… deep breath. He forced his racing thoughts to pause and he tried to collect himself, losing it in the street would not put a stop to this.

‘After an anonymous tip-off a body was found early Sunday morning – the 1st of January, exactly three years since the start of the original series of murders – in an abandoned house in the rural Durham village of Greatham. A police spokesman told this correspondent that the crime scene displays all the characteristics of a Crucifixion Killing, though, at this stage, we cannot confirm if there is a link between this and the killings of three years ago.’

The correspondent responsible for this literary achievement was one Miles Turner, a one time potential high achiever in journalistic circles who had followed the original investigations so vociferously that it had almost come to the point of obsession. He must be seeing this like the return of a long lost lover, thought Nick.

‘Those nine killings were particularly brutal; all following the same sick modus operandi. The police could find no connection between any of the victims and no motive was ever identified. All the murders remain unsolved. Each victim was found at a secluded or deserted spot, up and down the country, all had died of asphyxiation, the bodies were stripped naked and crucified to the floor using three-inch nails. A large pentagram, an occult Black Magic symbol, was daubed on the floor where the victims were crucified. An anonymous phone call had always pre-empted the discovery of the body.’

Nick’s home was a large, red brick, Georgian house surrounded on three sides by gardens which were bordered by a 12ft brick wall. A drive and pathway ran down the fourth side leading to garages, there an entrance to the house greeted him, pale misty breath was expelled from his mouth as he unlocked the dark blue, solid oak panelled door and entered.

‘The identity of the latest victim has not been revealed but it is believed to be that of a young woman.’

A young woman. Taki Maeda’s face flashed before Nick’s eyes, a memory of the happy holiday photo that had been published in the paper… she had been the last victim, the ninth victim, the only one to have been alive when found – if you could call a coma being alive, – the unfortunate young Japanese woman had died a couple of days later, never regaining consciousness. His mind’s eye could not suppress the memory of her spread-eagled body crucified to the vacant warehouse floor… within that stark-white magic circle… and her nakedness, hauntingly pale – perfect in its pathos… heartbreakingly beautiful in the full moon light that came in through the warehouse’s tall, broken paned windows.

That one memory, which he could not suppress, opened the floodgates to the ghosts of all the crucified victims, each one that contributed their part to the legend of the ultimate unidentified serial killer. The first of the nine was a fifty-four year old man, Ken Kendrick, who disappeared while cycling his way home after a night-time security job. Second was Isabelle Parfit, a young prostitute who’s last known prophetic words, to the fellow street women that she associated with, were “With the way my luck’s been goin’ lately I’m sure to bump into some sicko tonight!” Lenny MacDonald, eighteen years and last seen stumbling home after a night on the town was the third victim to turn up crucified. Then there was the homeless derelict and inveterate drunk, eventually named as Joseph Serratoa. Mina Carlisle, mother of two, was murdered next, out at night for unknown reasons. Followed by Susan Maltby, a shift worker on her way home from the fast food outlet where she earned a meagre living. Darren Jones, a petty thief on a dishonest night’s work was victim number seven, and James Wilkinson, a bank manager last seen alive wandering the red-light district, was the eighth crucified body to be found.

Nick suddenly felt like his head was spinning, he paused and leaned against the wall. Again, he took a deep breath. Bloody hell – what’s happening to me? This should have all ended – it can’t begin again.

The house had spacious, tall ceilinged rooms that were elegantly decorated in a subtle Art Nouveau, High-Tech fusion. It was his refuge; he dropped his weekend bag unceremoniously and cast aside his long, dark, insulating coat before quickly sitting himself down in the comfortable living room where he slowly tried to relax.

The story from the paper kept intruding on his thoughts, ‘The police are due to make a more detailed statement at 6 pm today once the victim has been positively identified and the next of kin have been notified.’

I need a strong coffee, he thought. It was 4.09 pm, just under two hours to go. He went through into the large kitchen, a spotless steam-punk fantasy of black, white and chrome. Nick watched his reflection rapidly grow in the percolator’s shinning, functional façade as he neared and then prepared a coffee.  He waited while it slowly gurgled and spat into the jug. Nick poured a cup of steaming black liquid and added two sugars. What to do now? The Internet! Of course – always up to date if you know where to look.

The study housed one of Nick’s computers, both of which were high spec and both used heavily.  Each computer was dedicated to a different side of his life, this one, a PC, was for research and information gathering, writing books or articles – responsible for the bulk of his income, and for communications – net, fax and phone.  The other was a ‘Mac’, which he used for design and art work, more as a hobby than for a living, it was one of his relaxation techniques.

There were hundreds of web sites with references to the Crucifixion Killer, the search engine made all the more notable ones available for scrutiny but it was easy to pick and choose which ones would be useful.  They were mainly split between the fan sites and the hate sites, with a few neutral report and documentary style sites thrown in. All serial killers seemed to develop a certain cult following but the number of fan sites for the Crucifixion Killer still amazed him. Most were British, a few European and American, and quite a large number from the Far East, especially Japan. He concentrated on the more serious British sites for the moment, hoping to just get an angle, the latest theory out there among the Crucifixionologists about the identity of the killer, or to find any breaking news.

But this was useless he soon realised, the first most net authors would have known about the new murder would have been the breaking of the news in the papers this morning. It would be unlikely that any would have had time to up load and broadcast their views to the world at large. He checked out the two highest ranking, and therefore most recently updated, fan-sites – one announced ‘Crucifixion Killer returns: Praise to the Crucifixion Killer’, and another, somewhat surrealistically ‘Crucifixion Killer Dead. Long live the Crucifixion Killer.’ Beneath that last title was a picture of a rather battered doorway which, it claimed, was the front door to the location of the latest murder. Neither website held any real details though; both seemed to be just the usual amalgam of unhealthy fascination, artistic endeavour and too much time running spare.

Nick resorted to the TV news and Broadsheet sites. The best were already bookmarked and he accessed them directly without the need for a search. There was little to show for his effort though… except for a small piece from a local Durham news site – ‘A close community is shattered by the discovery of a sacrificial style killing in their midst. The house the body was discovered in has been empty for at least two years, say shocked locals. The identity of the victim has not been revealed and there are no reported missing persons from the immediate area. A number of impromptu wreaths and bouquets have been left at the front door of the premises.’

A photo of the forbidding looking detached house was beside this comment, a splash of floral colour visible at the doorstep. He downloaded the image then immediately shifted applications on screen so he could zoom in on the shaded front entrance of the house; after adjusting the sharpness, contrast, gamma and saturation levels, the number nine became clearly visible in the darkened doorway… it was the same door from that last fan-site he had looked at. But in that site’s photo there had been no flowers carefully lain before it.

Nick kicked his heels back in the sumptuous room, lined with books and dark wood surround. Resting his feet on the desk he gazed out through the tall Georgian style windows to the frosted trees and grass of the large garden beyond, sipping at his coffee. The garden was a totally private piece of paradise, separated from the outside world. He decided to spend the rest of the morning exercising, to try and clear his mind a little. But first, he thought, he should check out the various cable news channels on the TV.

He scanned them all quickly, those broadcast from home and overseas, catching the half-hourly bulletins, but there was nothing new. The police news conference was still scheduled for six o-clock and the TV pundits were taking this as confirmation that the latest victim had been identified and the next of kin notified.

Nick subjected himself to an intensive half-hour of physical exertion in the exercise room before stepping into a hot shower, trying hard not to think of this new murder. It wasn’t easy. Images of the old ones were persistently haunting him, stark faces developing on the brilliant white tiles of the shower room like little Polaroid’s and the bigger, dark slate floor tiles were like photographic plates of the crime scenes – showing white magic circles that span and spiralled toward him. What’s going on? The thought angrily voiced in his head.  Three years and not a single disturbing memory, dream or thought – till now… a new murder and all hell breaks loose in my head.

He turned the shower to cold and shocked himself out of the daze that seemed to be descending.  Yelling with the surprise he turned it instantly off and, shivering, rushed from the shower room and retrieved a warm towel from the airing cupboard beside it. He patted himself dry, got dressed, and moved through into the living room, after pouring another cup of coffee, ready to watch the latest news.

The big, flat screen flicked into life, the black silent rectangle becoming a shining cacophony as he channel hopped rapidly before settling on what seemed the best. Nick placed the remote control beside him as he waited patiently for noon to arrive. The screen showed a number of chairs behind a long table with a blow-up of the both the Durham and Metropolitan Police Insignias on an otherwise plain backdrop. The table was covered with assorted microphones. A presenter’s inane voice-over prattled annoyingly as they waited for something interesting to happen.

Finally a number of official looking people paraded out sombrely; with little fuss they soon settled themselves in the chairs behind the table. Nick’s heart leapt up into his throat as he saw the lead officer take her place in the centre chair. It was Detective Inspector Annabel Radcliffe, she had been the chief officer involved in the Metropolitan’s original investigation into the Crucifixion killings… they must have found a connection to have called her in – but there can’t be a connection, there simply can’t!

The excited shuffling and coughing of the journalists present suddenly ceased as DI Radcliffe cleared her throat and leaned forward, bringing her mouth nearer to the microphones.  “I have a short statement only to give to you.” She said. She seemed harassed and continued abruptly. “The body found yesterday has been identified as Patricia Bell, a twenty year old university student who went missing three days ago, her next of kin have been notified. We are doing all we can to trace the killer at this moment in time and due to the sensitive nature of our investigations we can not disclose any further details.” A sudden commotion from her audience erupted as all the journalists present simultaneously voiced their protests as violently as possible.

“Other than…” DI Radcliffe stood and grabbed the largest of the microphones before her and then shouted into it, effectively drowning out all dissent.  “Other than to state that we have made a connection with the previous spate of serial killings that have been popularised as the work of the Crucifixion Killer! There can be no doubt that the same perpetrator is at work again.”

The room positively erupted before her as she calmly turned her back on it all and lead her entourage back out of the room, increasingly desperate questions and pleas were shouted after her but to no avail.

Nick couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. No! You can’t leave it like that! He stared, dumbfounded at the television screen. “It can’t be the Crucifixion Killer – it just can’t be.” He said standing, his fingernails digging into his palms, and then spat “No bastard’s going to steal my crown! No fucking bastard… after all that work… I did those killings, I’m the Crucifixion Killer – and I’ll crucify any bastard that tries to take my place!”

Nick Kaufman’s mind raced, desperately trying to figure out who could possibly know the intricacies of his murders, who would dare mess with his greatest work of art… his ultimate statement? A number of facts had remained undisclosed to the public so it had to be some one in the know, a police officer working on the case or maybe a journalist with very good sources – but who?

Miles Turner instantly came to mind, he’s a low life opportunist scum, who would kill his own mother if he thought it would sell the newspaper with his account in it . . . but surely he wouldn’t have access to the full details of the case?

Then, more desperately, he thought. Maybe it’s a plot by the police themselves – to flush me out… but no, they could never get away with that… unless there never was a murder, there was no student called Patricia Bell… so no next of kin to notify?

Nick was forcibly snapped from his deliberation by a voice from the half open door to the room.

“Hello Mr. Kaufman.”  It said. Nick’s heart almost stopped dead as he span to see the intruder that had addressed him.

End of Part One.

As stated earlier, you can read the concluding Part Two of this story on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming second volume of our 451 ePublishing Haus’ Dollar Dreadful series of ebooks which will feature this and two more of my occult horror tales… ‘The Ninth Watcher‘ and ‘The Matter of Time’. Both these stories will have part Sneak Peek previews here and full Sneak Peek previews on the Patreon site HERE. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated on all my articles, stories and publications.

The Horror of it All… enter HERE all those who delight in horror, death, the macabre, the occult, black humor, weird tales, dark fantasy – and all such nefarious pleasures.

Harbinger451.co.uk

Copyright © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


The Horror of it All

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Sneak Peek at Occult Horror Short Story: The Ninth Watcher by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on July 4, 2017

The Horror of it All CategorySneak Peek at Occult Horror Short Story: The Ninth Watcher by Peter Guy Blacklock

The Ninth Watcher is a short occult horror story in two parts, the first of which is presented below. You can read the whole thing on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming second volume of our Dollar Dreadful series of ebooks which will feature three of my horror tales for your delectation.

High Moor Asylum

A dark date with destiny is in the offing at the High Moor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

The Ninth Watcher

Part One: Lunatic.

Tuesday.

A date with destiny is a date that needs a lot of setting up.  No matter how preordained an event, planning is essential; certain designs must be put into action to ensure that a doom comes to fruition.  Newspaper ads, favours, dues . . . all play their part.  There is a definite knack to being in the right place at the right time.

Loud music thundered ominously in my ears as I walked steadily from the picturesque village, rising out of the valley and away from its cosy day-tripper surroundings.  Although late in the season my headphones and blue tinted shades had provided shelter from the bustle of the still busy Valley Line train, but in the increasingly barren landscape of High Moor they contributed to a rather chill mood.  A mood though which was suitable to the task ahead.

I approached High Moor Asylum with a sober countenance, it was a high security institution for the criminally insane, its reputation for excellence and its extreme secrecy also made it a perfect sanctuary for the rich and famous to deposit any relatives that may otherwise cause embarrassment or scandal.  The bleak building, built less than thirty years earlier, suited its surroundings; though its mock nineteenth century facade failed to add the character of age.  The building was new and the site had no history, at least none that I could find, and my research was meticulously thorough.

I mounted the steps leading to the large front doors purposefully, stopping before them I removed my headphones which now only emitted the low electronic hum of latent power, the music had finished.  I switched the compact-disc player off.  Pressing a finger to the small white button of the doorbell I waited to be greeted.  The door opened to show me a mature woman dressed in official whites, a name badge tagging her Nurse Wheatley.  The poorly veiled puzzlement on her face as she looked me up and down was familiar to me, welcome even.

Appearances can be deceptive, my height is below average for a man but above average for a woman, my build is slight but athletic and my dress, some might say, is effeminate though definitely not feminine.  I think of my attire as practical in a Victorian gentleman sort of way, the black frock coat emphasising slightly masculine shoulders and accentuating a slightly feminine waist.  A pale and pretty asexual face and dark, roughly cropped hair added to the ambiguity.  Removing my sunglasses I introduced myself, Sam Stafford.  My soft, strong and measured voice giving nothing away.  I was expected.

Dr. Hilda Greer admitted me to her presence at the precise time of our appointment, 10.30am, I had arrived nine minutes earlier.  She was younger than I had expected – in her late thirties maybe, she scanned our earlier correspondence, seeking for a formal title to brand me.  She didn’t find one.  She finally said my name uncomfortably with no Mr, Miss, Ms or Mrs to label me with.  Doctor Greer did not like being at a disadvantage.  She was also uncomfortable with my reason for being there.  The supernatural was not a subject she could confidently discuss theories about.  Which was why she needed to call in a professional.  I was the only Investigator of the Paranormal that she could find mention of through her many contacts at various universities and institutions, so she called for me.

I accepted her invitation to sit down.  I broke the stilted silence that descended into her comfortably dark, wood panelled office by asking if there had been any more strange occurrences since her last letter.  She hesitated before releasing a torrent of concerns, things had just been getting worse; security systems failing, strange unbelievable noises, temperature changes.  When these things happen the inmates would all seem to go simultaneously berserk, stretching the staff to the limit.  The strain was starting to tell; staff calling in sick, patients weren’t being attended too properly.  The concern in her eyes told more than her words possibly could.

I asked Dr. Greer if the beginning of the unusual happenings had coincided with the admittance of any inmates.

“Our admissions are taken in with the strictest confidence . . .” She began to recite her official policy, I interrupted her, reminded her of the predicament.  The phenomena were unlikely to be attached to the building or grounds for they had no history, they must be attached to someone or something brought into the Asylum.  I demanded to know who or what had arrived just before the waves of supernatural phenomena had started.

She remained silent for a good thirty seconds.  “Alexander Price was admitted on the 23rd of August, the phenomena started that night, hardly noticeable at first, gradually getting worse each night.  That was a month ago.”

Alexander Price.  That name conjured up so much for me.  A lunatic asylum was where he belonged, to protect himself as well as others.  He was a self and very publicly professed sorcerer, occultist and practitioner of black magic, considered by most to be eccentric, by the rest simply mad.  He was considered by a few, those misfortuned enough to know of his dealings at first hand — myself included, to be the most dangerous man in Britain.  His privileged and extremely wealthy background had protected him so many times; assault, rape, ritual abuse; there was never enough evidence — and any willing witnesses or accusers were never very willing for long.  My composure remained intact and my expression did not change.  My existence had meaning again.

“What happened to him?  Why was he admitted?”

The head of the asylum hesitated.  “His father brought him in, he’d been found a ‘gibbering wreck’ in a cellar of his London premises.  A few of Price’s cronies had tipped his father off, a ‘summoning’ they had tried had gone wrong . . . or some such nonsense.”

I asked if I could see Price himself.  Dr. Greer shuffled a little, then pressed a secreted intercom on her desk and asked for a Nurse Addams.

 

Alexander Price

Alexander Price… or is it Aleister Crowley?

Nurse Addams was a very big man, both vertically and horizontally.  He looked exactly like the clichéd sadist always found in mental institutions, at least if television is to be believed, but his soft voice belied this.  I followed him, feeling very small.  The spotless tiles of the chequered floor remained the same but the décor, doors and walls changed from plush manor house to sanitised, high-tech institution with insidious ease.  The nurse led me initially to a control room for the wing that held Price, monitors showed rooms and occupants with a detached, uncaring clarity.  Alexander Price’s cell stood out in its scarcity.  The occultist sat cross-legged and naked, but for a grubby pair of shorts, in the centre of the room with a pentacle and circle scrawled about himself on the floor.  No furniture, not even a pallet kept him company, a bright white toilet bowl kept a lonely vigil in a darkened corner.

I asked for confirmation that Price had had no belongings with him when he was incarcerated in this room.  “None.” said Nurse Adams.

“With what then has he marked the floor?”  I asked.

“Charcoal, mixed with ‘is own blood, amongst other things I’m sure.” Was the reply.  The marks looked desperately black on the monitor screen.  The inmate rocked slowly back and forth as if talking or chanting to himself.  “When ‘e first came ‘e ‘ad no charcoal –- daubed it with ‘is own blood and filth, every time we cleaned it up ‘e would do it again,” continued the nurse, “tried restraining ‘im, ‘e just went wild.  Dr Greer just said to give ‘im some charcoal an’ leave ‘im — and ‘is daubs . . . it kept ‘im quiet.”

My request to see him was met with a shake of the head.  “You’ll get no sense out of ‘im.”

The door to his cell was as secure as security could be, the pass card and key-pad sequence released a mechanism and then a huge bolt had to be slid across the heavy iron door.  “It won’t be pleasant.”  Warned the nurse matter-of-factly.

The scent of fear is the foulest thing.  Price’s cell was full of it.  I asked the nurse to leave and close the door behind him, he refused but agreed with a shrug to leave the cell with the door open, he was obviously relieved that he did not have to stay there.  Price looked up at me as soon as the nurse left the room, his eyes were perfectly sane but panic was in his voice.  “Are you here to help me — can you help me?”

Standing before him I asked, “What has happened to you?”

“Questions, questions . . . I don’t need more questions I need help!”

“I can only help you if I know what has happened.”

“Are you a Doctor?” said Price suspiciously.

“No,” I said, “I’m an occultist, like you.”

He laughed, “There is no one like me.  Don’t you know? I’m the most evil man in the world . . .” His laughter was strong and loud but it was an obvious bluff.

“What did you manage to summon that night?” I asked.  “Can you remember?”

“Back to the questions . . .” he said vociferously. “– Oh I remember all right: I’m not likely to forget . . . ever.”

I waited for an answer to my question, taking the opportunity to study Price in detail.  He just stared back at me, occasionally glancing about the dark room.  Price remembered what had happened all right, he was replaying it constantly in his mind but he feared that to tell of his memory was to bring that memory to life . . . he stayed silent in his fear.  He sensed my intrusion as I viewed his thoughts though and this panicked him.

“How can I help you?” I asked hoping this path might lead to information.

“Have you heard the term Binah?”  He suddenly asked.

Binah is the third Sephirah of the Tree of Life, according to Kabalistic tradition.  And I told him so. He was testing my occult knowledge.

“What do you know of the Codex Latinus Monacensis 849?”

“It is a manuscript, of the fifteenth century.  I suppose you could call it a handbook of ritual magic and Necromancy.”  I said.  “It’s in the Bavarian State Library I believe.”

He smiled unpleasantly.  “Do you know what this circle marked on the floor represents?” His tone was getting increasingly sarcastic and his manner more manic, more desperate.  “It protects me,” he answered the question himself.  “I remain perfectly safe while it remains intact and I remain within it.  If you can’t find a way for me to leave here without the need for it you cannot help me.  Do you still think you can help me?”

“I can only help you come to your fate.  The outcome of your actions is unavoidable, preordained almost.”  I smiled.  He did not.

“There is nothing I can do to prevent your destiny,” I continued, “you may succeed in postponing it, but in the end retribution will come to you.”

“Oh please . . . don’t preach to me!”  He said contemptuously.

“I can only aid those unconnected with you, those innocents affected by your actions and dealings with the Otherworld.  Your meddling must be put to rights.”  He just stared at me with pure hate slowly surfacing in his eyes.  “I can only give you advice.”  I continued.  “To hope to release your soul from its torment — its eternal torment.  You must forsake all your dark deeds, turn away from them.”

“You fool — if I turn my back on all I have done . . . they will simply take me — overwhelm me and destroy me . . . body and soul!”

“You are weak.”  I said matter of factually.  “You deserve the demons that seek you.”

“They’ll never get me,” he scoffed, “my knowledge keeps them at bay.”  His grin barely held as his bony hand, covered in grime, circled his crossed legs indicating the magic symbols.

“That kind of knowledge has a price though.”

“You talk like some kind of priest!” he suddenly spat,“– so holier than thou.  It makes me sick.”

“At least I am free to leave this Asylum, yours . . .“ I pointed to the circle, “you can never leave.”

He stood as if ready to leap at me, his fingers held like talons and his yellowed teeth gritted, his whole body strained.  Then suddenly he pulled back, looking at his circle, frightened he may have crossed over or disturbed it.

I laughed at him, trying to get another reaction.  He sat though as before and began mumbling his chants to himself.  He closed his eyes and his mind to me.  I would get no more from him.

End of Part One.

As stated earlier, you can read the concluding Part Two of this story on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming second volume of our 451 ePublishing Haus’ Dollar Dreadful series of ebooks which will feature this and two more of my occult horror tales… ‘Crucifixions Continue‘ and ‘The Matter of Time’. Both these stories will have part Sneak Peek previews here and full Sneak Peek previews on the Patreon site HERE. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated on all my articles, stories and publications.

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Harbinger451’s New Patreon Subscription Page Needs You!

Posted by Harbinger451 on January 19, 2017

Harbinger451 Updates CategoryHarbinger451’s New Patreon Subscription Page Needs You!

I’ve just launched a page on the Patreon website. This page gives you the chance to assist me in producing some amazing online content, ebooks and (eventually) print books too. Throughout history many great (and not so great) “starving artists” of all types have been given the opportunity to produce their creative works due to the support and financial backing of enlightened patrons and champions of the arts. For a small subscription each month you too can do the same for me – and get some very cool rewards in return, at four levels of subscription.

Harbinger451's Patreon Page

Harbinger451’s Patreon Page

 

Level 1 Subscription – For only $1 a month Neophyte patrons gain access to patron-only posts, including:

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  • having their name mentioned as a special patron on my website and in all ebooks published by the 451 ePublishing Haus while they are an Initiate patron.

Plus – all of the above rewards.

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  • free copies of all Peter Guy Blacklock print books published while they are an Ipsissimus patron.

Plus – all of the above rewards.

become-a-patron-buttonMy first goal is just $30 a month, it will keep my website online, paying for my domain name, hosting and server fees, so I can continue giving the world 24/7 access to loads of great content with no unavoidable breaks due to insufficient funds.

My Second goal is just $90 a month, it will keep me online, paying for my wi-fi broadband service, so I can continue adding great content to my website (and this blog) with no unavoidable breaks in my connectivity due to insufficient funds.

My third goal is just $270 a month, this will allow me to pay for some proper advertising and marketing, freeing up more of my time to write, design and publish some fantastic content and books.

More goals will be added as more patrons subscribe and warrant it.

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Guy Fawkes – from Religious Terrorist to the Face of Anonymous Protest (Part Two)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 24, 2016

Babble CategoryGuy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent – To blow up the King and Parli’ment.

Having dealt with the history of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot in Part One, I will now turn my attention to how this turn-of-the 17th century English fanatical religious terrorist, wannabe-assassin and potential mass-murderer become the 21st Century’s face of world-wide protest, anarchy and anonymity? There are numerous reasons of course but principle among them are an annual national bonfire night used for the burning of effigies of hated figures,  a 19th century historical romance, a late 20th century cult comic book, a 21st century super-hero movie and a loose collective of anonymous activists, hacktivists, anarchists and protest movements.

What is Guy Fawkes Day (or Night) – is it Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night?

In the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, King James I’s Council allowed the celebration of its thwarting and the saving of the King by the lighting of bonfires without any danger or  disorder. The Observance of 5th November Act 1605, also known as the Thanksgiving Act, was passed in Parliament on the 23rd of January 1606 and it made the celebrations a public annual thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. Needless to say Gunpowder Treason Day (as it was at first known) provided Protestant preachers an ideal occasion to deliver anti-Catholic sermons to their parishioners but also it was used as an excuse for sanctioned public festive drinking and processions as well as for the lighting of bonfires and small explosives. Another, more sensible, tradition was started because of the Gunpowder plot (and is still carried out today) – that of searching the cellars of Parliament by the Yeoman of the Guard before its ceremonial opening.

Bonfire Night at Windsor Castle in 1776

Bonfire Night at Windsor Castle in 1776

In 1626, at the age of 17 and while still an undergraduate at Christ’s College – Cambridge, John Milton wrote his epic poem In Quintum Novembris (On the Fifth of November) about the Gunpowder Plot and featuring Satan as a character – foreshadowing his later, and much more accomplished, Paradise Lost. The name Guy Fawkes does not appear in its verses and in fact, in this highly mytholigised version of the then recent historical events, it is Satan himself who calls a cabal of devils, including the Pope, to carry out the evil plot fated to end in failure and with the God of Protestantism laughing at the futility of the Catholic evildoers. Though essentially a school exercise in Latin the work was first published in a collection of his Latin verse printed in 1645.

By the time of the English Civil War (1642–1651), Gunpowder Treason Day was still being being celebrated but increasingly it was being referred to as simply Bonfire Night. Effigies of hated figures started appearing (usually of Guy Fawkes or the Pope), they were paraded around local areas in masked procession before being set on top of a large bonfire and ceremoniously burnt with the pyre. Not surprisingly, during the English Interregnum (1649-60, the years between the execution of Charles I and the restoration of the monarchy with Charles II) the now less formal annual day of thanks became more a celebration of the saving of parliamentary government and of Protestantism than of the saving of a monarch.

Three-score barrels of powder below – To prove old England’s overthrow;

After the Restoration, Charles II tried to return the celebrations of the 5th to a more formal monarchist purpose but the people of the land were inexorably drawn to the more diverse and anarchistic (but still very much anti-Catholic) elements of the fire festival. Bans on bonfires and fireworks tried to quell the often raucous festivities and on numerous occasions militias were called in to suppress the more boisterous of the commoners’ excesses. When James II (the last Catholic monarch of England) came to the throne in 1685 the attempts to suppress anti-Catholic sentiment moved to the fore-front – but still to little avail.

As the years (and centuries) rolled on Bonfire Night (always its common name) survived various bans of bonfires and fireworks – and many attempts to quell the mayhem caused by commoners, often relishing the anonymity provided by the wearing of a mask, who increasingly saw the event as a release valve for relieving tension and bringing a little chaotic freedom by railing against the often heavily imposed order of the day. By the 18th Century Gunpowder Treason Day had, officially at least,  become Guy Fawkes Day with the custom of burning masked effigies of Fawkes and other notorious personalities and perceived enemies of the people  (now all increasingly referred to as Guys) remaining a focus of the celebrations.

A masked Guy being paraded on Guy Fawkes Night, 1868.

A masked Guy being paraded on Guy Fawkes Night, 1868.

The 19th Century saw the overtly anti-Catholic aspect of the annual fire festival finally begin to wane, by 1826 British Catholics were allowed to vote again and had been awarded greater civil rights.  The focus of the 5th shifted more resolutely to a rebellious vilifying of unpopular celebrity or political figures of the day.  And, though organised civil celebrations continued in many villages, towns and cities throughout this period, people also started to have smaller family and friends type celebrations with their own small-scale bonfires (with or without Guys) and the celebratory firing of bought or home-made fireworks. In the run-up to the big night it became common for, often masked, groups of children to roam the streets with there own little effigies ready for the burning, collecting pennies to fund their personal bonfire and fireworks blow-outs. To this day, in the days between Halloween and Bonfire Night, you still get children hanging around outside pubs asking all comers (and usually asking again all leavers) “Penny for the Guy, Mister (or Missus)?” – while proudly displaying their own particular attempt at constructing a barely recognizable humanoid Guy.

As the national anti-Catholic sentiment declined so softened the popular attitudes to Gay Fawkes himself. Despite the fact he sought to overthrow one intolerant religious monarchy and replace it with a another, even more intolerant one, he was increasingly seen in a more sympathetic light. A romantacised rebel supporting the plight of the common people rather than a fanatical and religiously intolerant terrorist. This might largely be due to the publication of the 1840 historical romance Guy Fawkes by William Harrison Ainsworth which cast Fawkes as an adventurous, but tragic, hero who was honour bound to embark on a doomed course of events. Between 1840 and 1878 the hugely popular tale – mixing fictional and Gothic elements in with the historical – was published twice as a serial and seven times as a novel, one of which was a 3-volume set illustrated by George Cruikshank. Almost immediately, versions of Ainsworth’s novel were adapted as stage plays and the now more acceptable character of Guy Fawkes, with the more “commoner-friendly” elements of the Gunpowder plot, even started appearing in pantomimes with the likes of Harlequin and Pantaloon, and went on to numerous appearances in penny dreadfuls and children’s adventure books.

By God’s providence he was catch’d – With a dark lantern and burning match.

Guy Fawkes effigies and collectors, all masked, 1903, by John Benjamin Stone.

Guy Fawkes effigies and collectors, all masked, 1903, by John Benjamin Stone.

Into the 20th century pyrotechnic manufacturers cottoned on quickly to a growing mass market for their goods and their advertisements started to refer to the night of the 5th as Fireworks Night – marking yet another old and popular festival or holiday being co-opted (and sanitised) by the greed of modern commercialisation – even to the point of large numbers of cheap cardboard or paper Guy Fawkes masks being sold to children or “gifted for free” with children’s comics. The softened and more populist characterisation of Guy Fawkes also started appearing in a different kind of light show – the movies. He was depicted on film as early as 1913, played by Caleb Porter in the silent British movie Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot directed by Ernest G. Batley, and then again in 1923, played by Matheson Lang in another silent picture Guy Fawkes directed by Maurice Elvey. The latter an adaptation of Ainsworth’s influential 1840 novel. Guy Fawkes made regular appearances on British TV in dramas and dramatised scenes for historical documentaries as well as often turning up (in parody) on comedy sketch shows and children’s TV shows. Somewhat bizarrely, the only other movie depiction of Guy Fawkes in the 20th century (that I could find on the IMDB) was played by Bill Maynard in the historical comedy Carry on Henry directed by Gerald Thomas in 1971.

Although a well known and recognisable character in Britain for hundreds of years, Guy Fawkes – as an historical and then fictional figure – barely registered a blip on the cultural RADAR screens of even the ex-colonies let alone the rest of the world. Or at least that’s the way it was until a slow burning fuse was lit by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd in 1982 when the British anthology comic Warrior started the troubled and protracted publication of the pair’s black-and-white cult comic strip V for Vendetta.  Unfortunately Warrior was cancelled in 1985, two episodes short of publishing the complete Moore and Lloyd strip. The mantle was taken up by DC Comics in 1988 with the publication of a ten-issue series that reprinted the Warrior stories in colour and continued the series to completion. Within two years the tale was reprinted in graphic-novel format, in the US by the DC Vertigo imprint and in the UK by Titan Books. In 1999 The Comics Journal ran a poll on “The Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the 20th Century” and V for Vendetta reached 83rd place.

Buy the V for Vendetta graphic novel at Amazon.com

V wearing a stylised Guy Fawkes mask and costume in the comic book V for Vendetta.

Set in the late 1990s, V for Vendetta depicts a dystopian and post-apocalyptic near-future Britain ruled as a police state by a fascist regime (and is heavily indebted to George Orwell’s 1984). The titular protagonist, V, is a masked vigilante, anarchist and revolutionary dressed in a stylised Guy Fawkes costume. Starting on Bonfire Night, 1997, the story follows his elaborate, theatrical and explosive campaign to murder his former captors who experimented on him, bring down the fascist government that allowed it, and convince the people to take back the power and rule themselves… all while training a young protégé, Eve, and all by the Bonfire Night of 1998. Aswell as continuing the re-invention of the fictional Guy Fawkes character started by Ainsworth in 1840, it repackages and updates the whole story of the people’s revolutionary into a dark, politically and intellectually astute, Batman-like super-hero story fit for mass consumption and world wide appeal. All that was needed was a slick, glossy big-budget movie adaptation. It came in 2006.

Directed by James McTeigue, written and produced by The Wachowski siblings and starring Hugo Weaving as V, with Natalie Portman as Eve and Stephen Rea as Finch, the detective leading the investigation into V’s activities… oh, and Clive Ashborn as Guy Fawkes himself – seen in the (not exactly accurate) opening sequences looking back at the historical character. Although still set in Britain, Warner Brothers‘ movie of V for Vendetta transposes the timeline to the late 2020s and in many ways Americanises the political conflict by switching it from a very British narrative of anarchism against fascism to a more American style conflict of liberalism against right-wing neo-conservatism. The anarchistic and morally ambivalent aspects of V’s character are toned down to make him a more acceptable hero figure for American audiences. It was less a criticism of Thatcherite politics in early 80s Britain and more a criticism of the Bush-era politics of America in the early 2000s. That said, it is still a largely faithful adaptation of Moore and Lloyd’s comic book and although Moore disowned all connections with it (as he has done with all big screen adaptations of his work) Lloyd embraced it saying, “if you enjoyed the original and can accept an adaptation that is different to its source material but equally as powerful, then you’ll be as impressed as I was with it”. The film renewed interest in Moore and Lloyd’s original story, and sales of the graphic novel – now available in hardback – rose dramatically in the USA.

Buy the movie V for Vendetta (2006) Blu-Ray

A scene from the movie V for Vendetta (2006)

The movie, like the comic book before it, initially met with a very mixed critical reception and its controversial story line dealing with themes of anarchism, terrorism, totalitarianism, religious and racial intolerance and homophobia has proved problematic for many sociopolitical groups. right-wing groups complained of its apparent promotion of anarchism and terrorism while anarchist groups complained that it had watered down the original’s political message for the sake of commercial Hollywood violence and flashy special effects. But over time the movie, like the comic, has become a popular favourite and it too has achieved a certain level of cult status. In 2008 Empire magazine named the film the 418th greatest movie of all time.

Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring – Holla boys, Holla boys, BURN ‘im ‘n’ sing!

Members of the group Anonymous wearing Guy Fawkes masks at a protest against the Church of Scientology in London, 2008.

Members of the group Anonymous wearing Guy Fawkes masks at a protest against the Church of Scientology in London, 2008.

The movie V for Vendetta was released in the USA on the 17th of March, 2006. Merchandising and promotional items included replicas of the Guy Fawkes mask used in the movie. Within a month these stylised Guy Fawkes masks based on David Lloyd’s original design (or close approximations to it) started to be worn by protesters in demonstrations. On the 17th of April that year, outside the New York City offices of Warner Brothers and DC Comics, the odd spectacle arose of anarchist freegan demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks – protesting the perceived misrepresentation of the Anarchist movement in the movie – being met with by a counter demonstration of libertarians wearing Guy Fawkes masks (possibly supplied by Warner Brothers themselves) – protesting the protesters.

Late in September of 2006 a minor Internet meme of a stick-figure known as “Epic Fail Guy” (or EFG) started appearing on the online message-board and image-board 4chan. Very soon EFG was wearing a V for Vendetta style Guy Fawkes mask – presumably because Guy Fawkes failed in carrying out the Gunpowder Plot (an epic fail indeed) – and the internet meme started to get more traction and spread out of its 4chan confines. Anonymous, the ad-hoc group of Internet users who are often associated with various hacktivist operations, also has its origins in 4chan, which launched in late 2003 as an anonymous online community that doesn’t require registration and where all users not choosing to use a nickname are displayed as “Anonymous” – and thus perpetuating the notion that users of the site are part of a group called Anonymous – not a single person but a collective (or hive) of users.

In January 2008 the online (or cyberspace) collective known as Anonymous, started using the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask in its first offline, or real world (meatspace), operation Project Chanology – a series of protests directed against the Church of Scientology. The use of these masks by Anonymous was ostensibly a reference to EFG, they were using it to suggest that Scientology was an epic fail, but it seems more likely that there was a much more practical purpose – preventing the famously litigious and snap-happy scam “Church” from photographing faces and identifying individuals. As the protests continued, more and more protesters started using the masks and it soon became a symbolic “face” for the anonymous group online as well as in the real world. Alan Moore, a self professed anarchist, said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2008, “I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.”

Buy a V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask on Amazon.com

A protestor wearing a V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask.

The V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask was adopted by many more protest groups in the following years. In Britain, on 23 May 2009, a group protesting the MPs’ expenses scandal exploded a fake barrel of gunpowder outside Parliament while wearing the masks. The mask became very popular internationally with the Occupy Movement that evolved from the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. It appeared in Poland in January 2012 during protests against the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a multinational treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. In June 2012 demonstrators wore the mask in Mumbai, India, protesting against the Indian Government’s censorship of the Internet and in 2013 a number of Persian Gulf states were forced to impose (an ultimately futile) ban on the sale of the mask as it started appearing in demonstrations that were part of the ongoing “Arab Spring” movement. It has been used in numerous anti-government protests in countries as diverse as Thailand, Egypt or Turkey and Brazil or Venezuela.

I think we can best sum up this article with the words of the mask’s designer, David Lloyd:

“The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny – and I’m happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way. My feeling is the Anonymous group needed an all-purpose image to hide their identity and also symbolise that they stand for individualism – V for Vendetta is a story about one person against the system.”

Buy a Guy Fawkes Mask on Amazon.com

Buy William Harrison Ainsworth’s Guy Fawkes novel at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta graphic novel at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta movie on DVD at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta movie on Blu-ray at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk.

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We made a Promo Video for our upcoming free H. P. Lovecraft eBook

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 13, 2016

451 ePublishing Haus CategoryPromo Video for our upcoming free H. P. Lovecraft eBook.

The first volume of our free Dark Matter series of ebooks is proving to take quite some time to compile and format. It collects all of H. P. Lovecraft’s creepy cultish fiction with a good spattering of his relevant essays, poetry, letters and his only sketch of Cthulhu. This eBook will also take a look at the legacy of his Cthulhu Mythos – an epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror – which inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world. It will have 144 of Lovecraft’s weird works; including ALL of his extant tales, with his juvenilia, his collaborative and his revision works. It will also include selected examples of those poetical and non-fiction works that we think will be of interest not only to fans of his fiction and Mythos in particular – but also to fans of horror and weird fiction in general.

Anyway – to the main point of this post. We thought a little promo video would serve well to drum up some interest in the aforementioned e-book… and, without further ado (except, put your headphones on people – the soundtrack will knock your socks off),  here it is:

Made using entirely free software with the addition of some open-source sound files from freesound.org. All the graphics were made using the open-source vector graphics editor Inkscape. The Cthulhu illustration was created using the GNU Image Manipulation Program GIMP. These graphics and images were then incorporated into video format using Microsoft’s Movie Maker.

The soundtrack featured in the video was made using the free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds Audacity. This soundtrack includes a special guest appearance by Bloop the mysterious ultra-low-frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu quote “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” was voiced by Harbinger451 himself… here it is in isolation:

For a break down of who was responsible for each individual sound used in the soundtrack see the credits at the end of the video… but also presented here for your convenience:

Video Credits

Video Credits

Details of the free ebook Dark Matter Vol 1: The Weird Tales of H. P. Lovecraft can be found HERE – including a full list of its contents.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


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Read Gaea Parallaxis and join the adventure in a monumentally strange parallel world!

Posted by Harbinger451 on March 24, 2016

Gaea Parallaxis CategoryRead Gaea Parallaxis and join the adventure in a monumentally strange parallel world!

Gaea Parallaxis: the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane is a free epic techno-gothic fantasy and sci-fi horror-comedy… yes, really! It follows the weird adventures of the perplexed amnesiac narrator (forced to use the name No Name Kane for legal and – as far as he can tell – purely bureaucratic reasons far beyond his control) as he explores the strangely familiar and yet alien world into which he has been mysteriously transported. The first five chapters of the chronicles are now up for you to read – and the plot is most definitely thickening – like the massive pool of coagulating goblin blood left on the floor in the Grey Wayfarer’s Inn at the end of chapter five. More action, adventure and romance will be coming your way soon as our hero tries to unravel the mystery of his presence in a dark and futuristic land of faerie… oh, and blood – there’ll be a lot more blood. Please feel free to comment on, discuss or debate these chapters by replying to this post.

The robot seemed largely oblivious to the cat, but a couple of times I would swear that it, almost playfully, nudged her away

Illustration for Chapter Three: A question of Time.

As well as the chapters that make up the chronicles there are also added some appendices that will make up the testaments. These supplementary articles detail No Name Kane‘s attempts to make sense of and record the peculiarities, cultures and societies of the world that he has rationalised as the anti-verse – Gaea Parallaxis. There are four testaments presented so far; 1. the Common Tongue, 2. the Lunar Cycle & the Days of the Week, 3. the Solar Cycle & the Months of the Year and 4. Times of the Day & the Tolls of the Watch. These fascinating and sometimes humorous articles are purely meant as additional information for those who are interested – they are by no means essential with regards enjoying the more narrative driven chronicles (but you’ll really be missing out if you don’t read them 😉 ). You can also comment on these appendices by replying to this post.

Join Citizen No Name Kane in Gaea Parallaxis!

Join Citizen No Name Kane in Gaea Parallaxis!

Chapter Six (The Shadow Watch Interrogation) and Appendix 5 (Economy of the Sovereign Coin) will be coming VERY SOON!

Enter the weird anti-verse that is Gaea Parallaxis

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Gaea Parallaxis: the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane

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Guy Fawkes – from Religious Terrorist to the Face of Anonymous Protest (Part One)

Posted by Harbinger451 on November 4, 2014

Babble from Harbinger451Remember, Remember the 5th of November

In the early hours of the 5th of November 1605 Guy Fawkes, who’d been using the names Guido Fawkes and John Johnson, was discovered in the cellars beneath the Palace of Westminster (specifically under Parliament House – only one part of a much larger complex of buildings) equipped with a handful of slow matches, a pocket watch and 36 barrels of gunpowder hidden under a pile of wood and iron bars. His aim was to blow-up the Palace and kill King James I (along with a significant portion of the ruling elite) at the ceremonial opening of Parliament that was to take place later that day. Fawkes – and his fellow conspirators – somewhat naively thought that the resulting  explosion would have resulted in the kind of chaos and anarchy that would allow them to establish an English Catholic monarchy in place of the existing Protestant Union of England and Scotland under a Scottish monarch who (as they saw it) had no right to the English throne.

So… how did this turn-of-the 17th century English religious fanatic, wannabe-assassin and potential mass-murderer become the 21st Century’s face of world-wide protest, anarchy and anonymity? There are numerous reasons – but principle among them are an annual national bonfire night used for the burning of effigies of hated figures,  a 19th century historical romance, a late 20th century cult comic book, a 21st century super-hero movie and a loose collective of online hacktivists, anonymous anarchists and protest movements. But more about them shortly, first…

Guy Fawkes - Contemporary Engraving by Crispijn van de Passe

Guy Fawkes – Contemporary Engraving by Crispijn van de Passe

Who was this Guy (Guido… or John)?

Guy Fawkes was christened into the Church of England at the church of St Michael le Belfrey in York (England) during the reign of Elizabeth I on the 16th of April, 1570 – he was probably born on the 13th for the custom was to wait three days before christening a child. His parents, Edward (proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York) and Edith Fawkes, were both practicing Anglican protestants (the official religion of England) though his mother’s family (descended from the Harrington family who were eminent merchants and Aldermen of York) were recusant Catholics refusing to conform to the official religion (and therefore subject to varying penalties and fines). He had two younger sisters, Anne (b. 1572), and Elizabeth (b. 1575). Guy Fawkes attended St Peter’s School (a governor of this school had spent twenty years in prison for recusancy and its headmaster, John Pulleyn, was from a family of noted recusants) and two of his fellow students, brothers John and Christopher Wright, would later be involved with Fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot. In 1578 Guy’s father died and approximately ten years later his mother moved the family to Scotton and remarried – this time to a Catholic, Dionysius (or Dennis) Bainbridge. It is probably fair to assume (though it’s not known) that this was when Guy aligned himself with Catholicism.

In 1585 an intermittent and undeclared war broke out between Protestant England and Catholic Spain when the English launched a military expedition to the Netherlands in support of the Protestant conflict against Catholic Hapsburg rule. In February 1587 the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots was executed by the English for plotting against Elizabeth I – this outraged Catholics in Europe, and her disputed claim on the English throne passed (by her own deed of will) to Philip II of Spain – confounding Anglo-Spanish relations even further. England then went on to enjoy major successes against the Spanish at Cadiz in April 1587 and against the Spanish Armada in 1588 but their own English Armada of 1589 was defeated off the Iberian Coast and the conflict became somewhat deadlocked.

When Guy reached the age of majority at 21 in 1591 he leased out some land he had inherited from his father for twenty one years – thus giving himself an income. In 1593 or 94 Guy, after a couple of brief periods of service to notable Catholic families, went to Flanders (in Belgium) with one of his maternal cousins, Richard Cowling (who was later to become a Jesuit priest). There he enlisted in the Spanish army, joining veteran English Catholic commander Sir William Stanley (an outspoken opposer of Elizabeth I) under the Archduke Albert of Austria to fight against the new Dutch Republic. By 1596 Fawkes had attained a position of command (an Alférez or junior officer) and he fought in the Siege of Calais in April as part of the Franco-Spanish war (1595-1598). He achieved some renown as a devout and intelligent soldier during this period and it was said that, in his maturity, he had gained quite an impressive appearance – being tall and powerfully built, with thick reddish-brown hair, flowing moustache, and a bushy reddish-brown beard. In 1600, under Colonel Bostock he was wounded fighting the Dutch at the Battle of Nieuport in Belgium.

Guy Fawkes by George Cruikshank (1841)

Guy Fawkes by George Cruikshank (1841)

Sir William Stanley, Father William Baldwin (the Jesuit Superior of Flanders) and Hugh Owen (an exiled Welsh spy) persuaded Guy (who had been recommended for a captaincy by this point) to take leave from the Archduke’s forces in February of 1603 and visit Spain in order to enlighten King Philip III (Philip II having died in 1598) concerning the “true position” of the Roman Catholics in England. While in Spain, Guy – now using the name Guido (the Italian version of Guy) – is reunited with his old school friend Christopher Wright (who had been sent, for the same purpose as Fawkes, but by English Catholic Robert Catesby – a very charismatic zealot). After the death of Elizabeth I in March, they try to enlist the Spanish King’s support for an invasion of England to support a Catholic rebellion there. Within hours of Elizabeth’s death Sir Robert Cecil (leader of the English Parliament) had set his plans for the smooth succession of the English Crown in motion and proclaimed the Protestant James VI of Scotland (the son of Mary, Queen of Scots) as King James I of England. Guy thought James nothing less than a heretic and was convinced that the staunchly Protestant King would drive all Catholics out of England. Though Fawkes and Wright were politely received by the court of Philip III (and despite the fact that England and Spain were technically still at war) their mission for support was ultimately a failure.

Back in England King James I (whose wife, Queen Anne of Denmark, was herself a Catholic) in fact tried to engender tolerance of Catholics by ending recusancy fines and awarding important posts to notable Catholics like Thomas Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, and Henry Howard. This relaxation led to considerable growth in the number of visible Catholics in England. The new King also made it his first order of business to try and negotiate peace with Philip III of Spain. However, two minor Catholic plots against the King were uncovered in the first year of his reign – the Bye Plot and the Main Plot, both discovered in July of 1603. Although most Catholics in England were horrified by the plots they were all tainted by them, certainly in the eyes of James I and Parliament. In February 1604 James I publicly announced his ‘utter detestation’ of Catholicism; within days all priests and Jesuits had been expelled and heavy recusancy fines were re-introduced.

During April 1604, in Brussels, William Stanley and Henry Owen introduced Guy Fawkes to Thomas Wintour who was there – on behalf of his cousin Robert Catesby – seeking support for a (yet to be fully conceived) plot against James I. Fawkes accompanied Wintour to Bergen in order to meet with the Constable of Castile, Juan De Velasco – who was on his way to the English Court to discuss a treaty between England and Spain – in the hope of persuading him to entreat the King to lift the penalties against recusants. Not encouraged by their interview with the Constable, Wintour returned to England – now with Guy Fawkes in tow.

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

On the 20th of May, 1604, Thomas Wintour and Guy Fawkes met with Robert Catesby, John Wright (brother of Christopher Wright) and Thomas Percy (a very well connected Catholic convert and brother-in-law of John and Christopher Wright) at an inn called the Duck and Drake, just off the Strand in London. The five men, under the leadership of Catesby, conspired and agreed under an oath of secrecy to kill King James I (along with his nearest relatives, members of the Privy Council, a majority of the lands Lords and Aristocrats, its senior Judges, Protestant Bishops and countless commons) by blowing up Parliament House during the ceremonial opening of Parliament; and to then bring about a Catholic monarchy in England by kidnapping the King’s daughter Elizabeth and then “protect” her as the heir to the throne until she could be married to a prominent Catholic and enthroned as “titular” Queen. Though the broad aims of the Gunpowder Plot were relatively well established the actual details would slowly take form over the course of the following year as events and circumstance would dictate exactly how it could be accomplished.

Thomas Percy was appointed to the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, the King’s mounted bodyguard, in June – and he started to rent a small tenement close to Parliament House in-which Fawkes (using the name John Johnson) was installed as Percy’s servant and caretaker of the building. Catesby’s London lodgings, a house across the Thames in Lambeth, was being used to store supplies and gunpowder so they slowly transported these across the river at night by row-boat to Percy’s tenement.

Parliament was adjourned on the 7th of July and was not due to open for business again until February 1605. On the 18th of August 1604 the undeclared war between England and Spain came to an end with the Treaty of London – Spain recognised the Protestant monarchy in England and renounced its intentions to restore Catholicism there – while England stopped its support for the Dutch rebels and both countries agreed to allow each others ships the use of their ports.

Robert Keyes, a trusted friend of Catesby, was added to the group of plotters in October 1604 and was given charge of Catesby’s house in Lambeth in order to guard to gunpowder store there. In December it was announced that the opening of Parliament would be delayed, due to concern over the plague, till the 3rd of October 1605. That same month – Catesby’s retainer, Thomas Bates, was recruited into the conspiracy after it became obvious that he was growing increasingly suspicious of Catesby and his fellows’ activities.

Guy Fawkes from Peeps into the Past c1900

Guy Fawkes from Peeps into the Past c1900

The conspirator’s initial plan apparently involved tunneling under Parliament House from Percy’s tenement in time for the ceremonial opening – though no evidence of such a tunnel was ever found – but the process of mining the tunnel proved much more difficult than they first envisioned. In March 1605 the plotters, through Thomas Percy, managed to lease a ground level undercroft beneath the first-floor Parliament House; the former royal palace of Westminster was a warren of very busy buildings that included the medieval chambers, chapels, and halls – that housed both Parliament and various royal law courts – as well as lodgings, shops, and taverns. Three more conspirators had been added to their number – Christopher Wright, Robert Wintour (brother of Thomas) and John Grant (the Wintours’ brother in-law).

Fawkes had seen to it that by the 20th of July they had in place within the undercroft 36 barrels of gunpowder hidden beneath iron bars and faggots (fire-wood). Shortly after this he was dispatched to Flanders to seek support for their conspiracy, and the resulting rebellion, among influential Catholics on the continent – including William Stanley, William Baldwin and Henry Owen.

Around this time Catesby divulged details of the plot to Father Oswald Tesimond (a Jesuit priest with whom Fawkes had gone to school) during confession – and on the 23rd of July, Tesimond would pass on the details to his Jesuit superior, Henry Garnet, again under the seal of confession. Garnet had already been approached by Catesby regarding the moral dilemma of taking action that may result in the death of innocents as well as that of the guilty – so he approached Catesby on the 24th to try and dissuade him from pursuing this course of action, but without success. In late July it was announced that the opening of Parliament would be put back, again due to threat of plague, to the 5th of November.

Fawkes was back in London by late August and he discovered that the gunpowder in the undercroft had decayed. More gunpowder was obtained and brought into that store, again hidden beneath a large pile of iron bars and wooden faggots. Over the next two months three more Catholics were added, mainly for financial and logistic reasons, to the growing list of rebellious conspirators – Ambrose Rookwood, Everard Digby and finally, on the 14th of October, Francis Tresham.

I See No Reason, Why Gunpowder Treason – Should Ever be Forgot.

The details of the plot were finalised in October 1605 – Fawkes would be the only one of their number in London on the 5th of November, he would light the fuse, escape across the river and immediately depart for the continent. The others would simultaneously start a revolt in the Midlands and kidnap Princess Elizabeth who was housed close by. The fate of the Princess’s brothers (closer in line to the throne than her) would have to be improvised, for the plotters weren’t sure if they would be present at the opening of Parliament with their father the King. It has been suggested that if the Princes had survived the explosion it would have been Thomas Percy’s job, taking advantage of his position within the King’s bodyguard, to track them down and, presumably, kill them. The group debated amongst themselves whether they should warn certain high-ranking Catholics within the government not to attend the opening of Parliament but in the end they decided that they would not.

However… on Saturday the 26th of October, Lord Monteagle (a Catholic Peer and the brother in-law of Francis Tresham) received an anonymous letter cryptically warning him not to attend the opening of Parliament and stating that “… they shall receyve a terrible blowe this parleament“. Not entirely sure what to make of it, Monteagle rode immediately to Whitehall in London and handed it to Sir Robert Cecil; meanwhile one of Monteagle’s servants – sympathetic to the plotters’ cause – tipped off Robert Catesby. Suspicion, of course, fell on Francis Tresham but he successfully persuaded Catesby and Thomas Wintour when they confronted him that he had nothing to do with it. Catesby decided that because the letter was so vague that they would still go ahead with their plan.

Guy Fawkes, probably unaware of the letter’s existence, checked the gunpowder in the undercroft on the 30th of October to find that nothing had been disturbed. On the 1st of November, Robert Cecil showed the anonymous letter to the King who became convinced (correctly) that it hinted at “some strategem of fire and powder“- they decided to have Parliament House searched both above and below. On the afternoon of the 4th, Fawkes was discovered in the undercroft by the Lord Chamberlain Thomas Howard, John Whynniard (the owner of the undercroft) and Lord Monteagle – they questioned what he was doing there and he told them that he was acting on behalf of his master Thomas Percy and he confirmed that the large pile of firewood belonged to Percy. The men left without searching the pile, apparently satisfied – once they were gone Fawkes left too.

The arrest of Guy Fawkes (by Unknown)

The arrest of Guy Fawkes (by Unknown)

Later that night Fawkes (somewhat foolhardily) returned and took up his position in the undercroft and settled himself to wait for the appointed time. Shortly after midnight Thomas Knyvet (Master at Arms) turned up with a body of men – arrested Fawkes as he tried to leave – and discovered the gunpowder (apparently for the first time – though I suspect the powers-that-be had probably known of its presence for at least some days). News of the arrest, and of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, quickly spread through London and the few plotters that were still there speedily fled north. Though Fawkes – still using the name John Johnson – claimed he was acting alone an arrest warrant was issued for Thomas Percy. Within three days, but only after extensive torture, Fawkes had finally confessed all and named his fellow plotters. By the 12th of November all the plotters were either captured or dead.

Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy were shot dead on the 8th – reportedly killed by the same bullet – at Holbeche House in Staffordshire. The rest of the plotters were executed (hung, drawn and quartered) on the 30th and 31st of January 1606. Guy Fawkes was the last of those killed on the 31st, he managed to cheat the baying crowd though by jumping early from the scaffold once the noose was on him – breaking his own neck and dying before the agony of the latter part of the execution, which they of course carried out anyway.

So that, my friends, is the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. There can be little debate that the plot was an audacious one – but would it have resulted in a Catholic Monarchy for England – I, for one, very much doubt it. I think they grossly overestimated their ability to orchestrate the resulting chaos that would have ensued and the idea that they would be able to manipulate the situation sufficiently enough to install a Catholic Queen Elizabeth II is frankly ludicrous.

Part Two (coming very soon) will examine the legacy of Guy Fawkes and the plot – which is still remembered to this day, especially in Britain every November the 5th after nightfall as a fire festival variously called Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night commemorates its failure. I’ll also be examining Fawkes’ impact on popular culture and how a stylised mask based on his face became the 21st century Face of Anonymous Protest.

Brought to you by Harbinger451.

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What are the implications of DNA Evidence linking Aaron Kosminski to a Jack the Ripper Murder?

Posted by Harbinger451 on September 8, 2014

Ripperology 101 CategoryPotentially momentous news in the field of Ripperology broke on Sunday the 7th of September, 2014, in the Mail on Sunday – Jack the Ripper has been identified using DNA evidence found on a shawl apparently connected to the murder of Catherine Eddowes on Sunday the 30th of September, 1888. The article claims the DNA of two individuals were found on the shawl – the first was that of Catherine Eddowes herself and the second was that of one Aaron Kosminski – a long time suspect in the Whitechapel Murders. The Mail on Sunday exclusive would have you believe that’s the end of it – case closed, Aaron Kosminski WAS Jack the Ripper – you can read the article HERE.

Eddowes Catherine Mitre Square

Contemporary sketch showing PC Edward Watkins discovering the body of Catherine Eddowes

If only it were as simple as that. Unfortunately there are some very big IFs and BUTs with regards to this news. For a more level-headed and skeptical view of the evidence read the article that appeared in The Independent the following day, HERE, and you’ll see that things aren’t quite so cut and dried. Many scientists are already pointing out problems with the evidence and the science used, perhaps best expressed in the words of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the man who invented the DNA fingerprint technique. “An interesting but remarkable claim that needs to be subjected to peer review, with detailed analysis of the provenance of the shawl and the nature of the claimed DNA match with the perpetrator’s descendants and its power of discrimination; no actual evidence has yet been provided.” Essentially the DNA evidence needs to be subjected to proper peer review and the tests (preferably blind) repeated under greater scrutiny and in a number of independent labs.

If the DNA evidence proves to be valid – what of the shady and mysterious provenance of the shawl itself?

Contemporary sketch of Catherine Eddowes

Contemporary sketch of Catherine Eddowes

If the DNA evidence is confirmed as correct it provides a link between Catherine Eddowes, Aaron Kosminski and the shawl – what does this mean? The shawl itself has a very mysterious history that begs the question – who did it belong to and why was it (apparently) left at the murder scene. The provenance of the shawl is largely hear-say. Allegedly found beside Catherine Eddowes body when her murder was discovered – though it is not listed among official descriptions of her apparel and possessions nor in any contemporary description of the crime scene itself. The surprisingly large shawl is presently in two sections – the first measuring 73.5in by 25.5in and the second 24in by 19in – it is mostly blue and dark brown, with a delicate  pattern of Michaelmas daisies in red, ochre and gold at either end. The closest item to this in the official descriptions is the skirt that Eddowes was wearing – a dark green chintz skirt with a brown button on the waistband and patterned with Michaelmas daisies and golden lilies – but it’s not a match so how did the shawl become associated with the Catherine Eddowes murder?

Russell Edwards himself admits that a good provenance for the shawl is non-existent – “It was said to have been found next to the body of one of the Ripper’s victims, Catherine Eddowes, and soaked in her blood. There was no evidence for its provenance, although after the auction I obtained a letter from its previous owner who claimed his ancestor had been a police officer present at the murder scene and had taken it from there.” That ancestor was Acting Police Sergeant Amos Simpson and he apparently asked his superiors if he could take the heavily blood stained shawl home for his wife. I can’t be the only one who would find this behavior strange in a police officer… and why would his superiors agree to it? It’s all very odd – and I’m a big believer in the saying that if something doesn’t make sense then it probably isn’t true. See HERE for an assessment of Amos Simpson’s remarkable claim.

Sketch of Aaron Kosminski

Sketch of Aaron Kosminski

The shawl was kept in the police man’s family – apparently stored away and remaining unwashed – for generations, apart from a 10 year stint between 1991 and 2001 at the Black Museum where it was never exhibited (due to a lack of provenance), until it was auctioned off in March 2007. It’s unlikely impoverished ‘unfortunate’ Catherine Eddowes owned such an expensive shawl so Russel Edwards reasons that the killer must have brought it to the scene… but just as likely in my opinion is that the shawl was at the scene before either Catherine Eddowes or her killer arrived there – perhaps coincidentally dropped or dumped earlier that night by some unconnected person right where the horrific murder was about to unfold.

Despite all that – if the DNA evidence IS proved – doesn’t it still provide a connection between victim Eddowes and suspect Kosminski?

Yes it does – but the nature of that connection is entirely up for debate.

The shawl allegedly has the blood of Catherine Eddowes (or more accurately the blood of a descendant of her female forebears potentially going back generations) soaked into it – Eddowes was famously one of the canonical five Jack the Ripper victims and one of the possibly up-to eleven Whitechapel Murder victims. She was the second victim to be killed in the so-called ‘Double Event’ in the early hours of September the 30th, 1888. You can read more about Catherine Eddowes’ murder HERE. Whoever killed her probably killed four or more of the other victims – he was almost definitely the individual known as Jack the Ripper.

The shawl also allegedly holds the semen of Aaron Kosminski (or the semen of a descendant of his female forebears potentially going back generations) – he has been suspected of being Jack the Ripper ever since the later murders happened. In 1894 Sir Melville Macnaghten, Assistant Chief Constable of the Met Police, named a suspected Polish Jew as “Kosminski” (see HERE) and Donald Swanson, Chief Inspector, CID, Scotland Yard from 1887, also named a Kosminski in his famous Marginalia notes (HERE). Aaron Kosminski was an immigrant Polish Jew who came to London in the early 1880s and members of his family settled in the Whitechapel area. By the time of the Whitechapel Murder scare it seems he was living between 3 Sion Square & 16 Greenfield Street with his sisters and their families – minutes away from Whitechapel High Street and close to the epicenter of the Whitechapel killing spree. There is a good assessment of the non-DNA evidence for Kosminski being Jack the Ripper HERE.

So the big questions are – How, where and when did that DNA evidence get on this shawl? (We don’t know) – and – Did both the blood and the semen evidence get on the shawl at the same time and in the same place? (We don’t know). It seems likely that the DNA evidence from both individuals found their way onto the shawl during the murder itself – but we have no way of being able to say that with 100% certainty… and that leaves the doors open for doubt and speculation.

There has been a long history of extraordinary claims with regards to the identity of Jack the Ripper and, to quote Carl Sagan – “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” This DNA evidence has yet to be proven extraordinary and it must be stated that although Mitochondrial DNA evidence (as used in this case) is great when it forensically excludes an individual – it is not so good when used to include an individual… it could potentially include numerous other individuals too (see HERE). Jack the Ripper suspects and claims have come and gone, and – for the moment – they will continue to do so. Ripperology is not dead… yet.

Read more about Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders at Ripperology 101 where the investigation continues as the site expands – looking at the Victims, the Suspects, the Witnesses, the Investigators, the Trophies & Clues, the Weapons & MO, the Letters, the Theories and much, much more.

Also – our upcoming eBook – ABYSS: A Chronicle of the Whitechapel Murders & the Origins of Jack the Ripper – will be released soon… watch this space.

And: check out our digital newspaper – The Ripperology Gazette – a free, daily online ‘newspaper’ that correlates and presents all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends concerning the field of Ripperology, along with all things Ripper-related in fiction, film, games and even music. It explores the mystery of the 1888 Whitechapel murders and the origins and legacy of Jack the Ripper by featuring the most popular stories that are trending on the Twitter and Facebook social networks each day. Subscribe to never miss out on the latest Ripper-related news.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451 and The Ripperologist (@Ripperology101).

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