Monday, November 18, 2013

Cthulhu Country

An inversion of the what you expect from a Cthulhu tale, Cthulhu Country is Lovecraft reimagined in the Jim Crow Era Deep South.  Rather than coming from the sea, the threats in this mythos come from the unfathomable depths of the coal mine, from the whispers carried along the breeze in the piney woods, from white robed cultists, and strange creatures that call in the night.  You are one of the few, who have stumbled upon these ancient secrets, and must do your best to keep your sanity, while preventing the uncaring darkness from swallowing the world whole.

The Times, They Are A Changin':
It's a time of turmoil, of chaos.  Although the Civil War was fought and lost almost a hundred years prior, the specter of slavery looms large over the Southern United States.  While the Federal Government is becoming less and less willing to allow the South to wallow in its past, there are those that have lived for generations in a certain way, and refuse to acknowledge their new reality.  They shrink back from it, screaming in abject horror as the future is revealed to them.

All the while, deep within the mountains and the woods, there are those who refuse to give up the Old Ways.  While they know that it's only a matter of time before they are uncovered, they know nothing else, so they suck the sizzling fat from their fingertips, pack up their stills and move deeper into the darkness.

They clutch tightly to their Family Bibles and their shotguns and their Old Ways, and woe to the outsider who stumbles upon their clannish encampments.

Cultists: ...but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and the prisoners said it had always existed and always would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places all over the world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath his sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would always be waiting to liberate him. ~The Call of Cthulhu

Shub-Niggurath:  One squat, black temple of Tsathoggua was encountered, but it had been turned into a shrine of Shub-Niggurath, the All-Mother and wife of the the Not-to-Be-Named-One. This deity was a kind of sophisticated Astarte, and her worship struck the pious Catholic as supremely obnoxious. ~ The Mound

Deep Ones: They were mostly shiny and slippery... with prodigious bulging eyes that never closed. At the sides of their necks were palpitating gills... They hopped irregularly, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four. I was somehow glad that they had no more than four limbs. Their croaking, baying voices, clearly used for articulate speech, held all the dark shades of expression which their staring faces lacked.  ~ The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The Crawling Chaos: And under a ghastly moon there gleamed sights I can never describe, sights I can never forget; deserts of corpse-like clay and jungles of ruin and decadence where once stretched the populous plains and villages of my native land...Around the northern pole steamed a morass of noisome growths and miasmal vapours... From the new-flooded lands it flowed again, uncovering death and decay; and from its ancient and immemorial bed it trickled loathsomely, uncovering nighted secrets of the years when Time was young and the gods unborn. ~The Crawling Chaos

Night Gaunts: Shocking and uncouth black things with smooth, oily, whale-like surfaces, unpleasant horns that curved inward toward each other, bat wings whose beating made no sound, ugly prehensile paws, and barbed tails that lashed needlessly and disquietingly.  All they ever did was clutch and fly and tickle; that was the way of night-gaunts. ~Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell, But every night I see the rubbery things, Black, horned, and slender, with membraneous wings, And tails that bear the bifid barb of hell. ~ The Fungi of Yuggoth

It was a colossal and nameless blasphemy with glaring red eyes, and it held in bony claws a thing that had been a man, gnawing at the head as a child nibbles at a stick of candy. Its position was a kind of crouch, and as one looked one felt that at any moment it might drop its present prey and seek a juicier morsel. But damn it all, it wasn’t even the fiendish subject that made it such an immortal fountain-head of all panic—not that, nor the dog face with its pointed ears, bloodshot eyes, flat nose, and drooling lips. It wasn’t the scaly claws nor the mould-caked body nor the half-hooved feet—none of these, though any one of them might well have driven an excitable man to madness. ~ Pickman's Model

Mi-Go: They were pinkish things about five feet long; with crustaceous bodies bearing vast pairs of dorsal fins or membraneous wings and several sets of articulated limbs, and with a sort of convoluted ellipsoid, covered with multitudes of very short antennae, where a head would ordinarily be. ~ The Whisperer in Darkness


Coal Mine, Distillery, Trailer Park, Meat Packing Plant, Cabin in the Woods

Source Material: 

  • Deliverance
  • Two Thousand Maniacs
  • Winter's Bone
  • In the Heat of the Night
  • Lawless
  • Mississippi Burning
  • North 40
  • "Off Season" and "Offspring", by Jack Ketchum
  • The Dillards
  • John Prine
  • Sons of Perdition
  • Merle Haggard
  • Those Poor Bastards

1 comment:

  1. Irvin S. Cobb's short story "Fishhead" is a credible Innsmouth replacement (and actual influence on Lovecraft).

    But definitely forget about Medusa's Coil, HP's awful, awful attempt at Southern Gothic. Try RE Howard's Pigeons from Hell instead.


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