Delve Deeper

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Joe Pulver shares his SINS, takes us to Leng...

"The prose of Joe Pulver can take its place with that of the masters of our genre-E.A. Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti-while his imaginative reach is something uniquely his own."

 - S.T. Joshi is happy to call author Joe Pulver a fan (and we are certainly fans of his), and even happier to call him a friend, so when he agreed to let us run several excerpts from his latest collection SIN & ashes, we just couldn't wait to share his mesmerizing works with our readers! To our surprise Joe also sent along a preview from a brand new, unpublished story that will appear in Robert M. Price's Secret Heart of Asia...

Joe's previous published works include his Lovecraftian novel Nightmare's Disciple, and his critically acclaimed collection Blood Will Have It's Season. He has also contributed short stories to a variety of magazines and anthologies including Robert M. Price's Crypt of Cthulhu, Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, The Tindalos Mythos, The Book of Eibon and many more...

Check out the excerpts below, then head over to Joe's
blog to see what he's been up to during the long, lamp-shadowed nights of Berlin...

His latest collection, SIN & ashes can be purchased


From SIN & ashes:

After Reading Michaux’s
“In the Land of Magic”

The night is ice
& full of eyes. Winds that will not cure speak of November.

There are no white halls in the hostelry. The tin ceilings are low, the carpets an exaggerated foliage of blunt faces. The wallpaper is sick with the smell of twilight spreading endlessly.

Even the shadows rot.

Up forty-one stairs that whisper like migraines to a door closed on the rumors and fragile madness of the stiff warblers outside. Behind the stained and chipped panel with the tarnished knob and the loose bolt that passes for a lock, the smallest rented room. Below, the Tavern of Ruin, where time & dreams happened a long time ago. Sitting on the edge of the bed where a restless thousand have disintegrated, a curled figure in threadbare clothes 

—his consciousness no more fluent than a haze of aimless dust—

gazes at a flat spot on the wall where a soft avalanche of hollowness reaches out. The man named Uphill isn’t paralyzed, simply too empty to move. Lost to his ordeals in the abyss he’s even forgotten the little secrets children consider run-of-the-mill, forgotten all phenomena not terrible . . .

© 2010 Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

8’s & Aces
      No whiskey. No days at the track these days . . . Pool in the backroom of O’Connell’s Grill, no.
     No pussy.
     Crusin’ all those nights, up and down the strip in the souped-up Chevelle—hopin’ for easy and cash and speed and surprise parties with dancing and honey and big comfortable summer with bells and the top down and everything in the whole god-damn world placed at their feet . . .
     Misadventure ringing, lost that map.
     Outta laughs . . .
     They wander ended story to story run its race. Simon Bartholomew Wormwood . . . Annabelle Buck . . . Starling, Snow, Cotton Fulton II and Case and Joris and Porfats and Polliards and Barretts and Burgess and Estrada . . . and 137 others. All have reached their destination. Many were not whole when they got there . . .
     Plank and the Belldog steal from the Lord. They get born, live for a time and come here in the end.
     In the old lives they robbed graves for gems and jewels and rings and bodies to sell. In this incarnation—after a night, many, many years ago, of drunken missteps—they steal from graves. They skip the gems and jewels, pass on the rings or just throw them out, they’re after bodies. Dinner.
     No bones to gnaw on in the casket of Sarah Joris. Plank spits at the moon for enjoying the defeat.
     “I eat one of yer old boots if you hadn’t burned them last winter,” The Belldog said.
     “Reanimated in the odors of death and twenty years on I still have to hear about them shitty boots.”

© 2010 Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

huddled in rags
in a Kingsport alley
. . .
(for Julia)
The ebb and flow of lips twisted by gin . . .
     Wounded tongues . . . Drifting, whispering . . . Needing more. . .
     Fingers snarling with lust . . .
     No hiding places . . .
     Crying things that cannot sleep . . .
     Mouths haunted by vice . . .
     Ships that glide on currents of blood . . .
     A drunken musician swallows a gutter of degenerate urges. Its sunless silence severs the prayers from his open mouth . . .
     There are no hiding places . . .
     The scent of pleasures burning . . .
     In their bridal chambers, new corpses lie bent by the dirty kisses of blackness . . .
     There are no hiding places . . .
     The sea is rising . . .
     Kingsport’s dark sky answers no questions . . . Its frozen breast of rust is the flag of the bleak . . . Swollen beaks from the rim of death, drape change over the scarecrow-husks hiding in the sludge of madness. . . Wind, scraped with ghost static, delivers rodent eternities that leak blackened colors . . .
     Kingsport and all its voiceless boundaries of rain and scaffolds of assassin-shadows are mad things. Its winter mouths—nests of blackblack-black, cold as the ice of oblivion-eroded dead mother poems—visit the throats

© 2010 Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

Straight rain. Mean and murderous. Its eyes screaming for blood.
     Denver faded three hundred miles back. Three hundred miles of wet asphalt back . . . It could have been a thousand . . .
     Rain. Mean and murderous—Engraving the world with sheets of thorns. Rain. Screaming like the Old Man on a gin bender. Screaming like the Old Man before the belt and the fists.
     Thirty years back . . . Or it could have been yesterday.
     This run was supposed to end in the desert, not in a ditch. But the clock pressed. Tick-tock/tick-tock. Like a boss with eyes that only said FASTER.
     He needed coffee and a pack of smokes. Maybe some eggs and toast . . . And something other then this Bible-thumping Forever that poured out of the radio. A nice sexy waitress—not some upper-class package with radar eyes searching for money, but earthy—knowing, with blue eyes and a big butt that swayed. Not unkempt and worn, but nice and maybe with a little extra. And she would wink all-sexylike when she refilled his coffee.
     Rain—full throttle, carrying violence with each slap. Like the Old Man crossing the hardwood floor.
     For the last fifty miles or every step he’d ever taken.
     Broken. The knobs wouldn’t work. He couldn’t turn the fuckin’ radio off or down. The wipers working overtime, fighting off this wallop of darkness.
     He should pull over and wait it out. But he needed a smoke and needed to be warm. Wanted . . . Wanted something to look at that didn’t hurt his strained eyes. Wanted to hear something—someone other than Rev. James Theodore Ellison’s promise to heal you if you sent him money. To be healed by money. That’s what got him here.

© 2010 Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

From Robert M. Price's Secret Heart of Asia:

"The Corpse-Eating Cult of Leng"
(for Leigh Brackett – one of the best!! !)
by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

He was 80 if he was a day. The sedan chair they carried him on was decades younger than his failing body. Under the layers of fur and blankets was a man, part of one, the part the cancer had yet to eat. But it had not touched his eyes yet. Harder than Gibraltar , they burned with hate. Sir Arthur McLeod Sutherland’s hate was keeping him alive.
His first born, beloved son, Kenneth Alistair Suthlerland, was missing and presumed dead, and now his daughter Margaret Elizabeth was missing. He believed his son had died at the hands of the Nazis. Believed his daughter, who he loved more than clan, or God, or life, may be in their hands as well. He could buy and sell mountains; to save his daughter he had climbed this one, all 11,000 feet.
Sir Arthur sat before another mountain. Hard and dark as the one he’d just scaled. This one would not be moved. Had said so. “Torpedoes, or gold be damned.”
“My sources tell me, you have no love of them.”
“If it is it a question money, I will pay whatever you ask.”
“Money.” Stark sipped his tea. Lit a cigarette. “Money’s as evil as The Reich.”
“They told me I would find you harder than the rock we climbed. And twice as cold.”
“Men say a great deal about me. You may decide what little of it is accurate. What they babble, or what you think, means nothing to me.”
“I do not believe you know who I am.”
“I can see very well.”
Sutherland placed a photograph of his daughter on the table. Stark noted the effort it took.
“Margaret Elizabeth is my joy.”
“What did you call her?”
“My daughter, her name is, Margaret Elizabeth.”
Margaret Elizabeth Sutherland . . . Did she attend the University of Edinburgh ?”
“Yes, she did.” The old man’s head moves forward. “Why?”
“She roomed with a young woman named, Emily Bruce.”
“Indeed she did. For four years. She and Emily were very close until The Accident.”
“I know.”
The old man stood. Face said it all. Held a hundred questions. And it was rubbed with fear and disappointment, and something akin to hope.
“I was married to Em.”
Something beneath him gave way and he sat back down. He saw the cold iron of death’s shadow on Stark’s features and knew she was dead. “I am sorry for your loss. Emily was—” Another sorrow was mounted to his brow.
Stark butted out his cigarette and looked up. “Now tell me of your daughter’s trouble.”
His teeth spit words with hope in them. “You’ll find her for me?”
“Even if she resides in Hell.”
At the word the man trembled. “Hell.” His eyes watered up. “Hell is what you may find, Sir.”
Despite the cost, he sat rail straight, snapped his fingers and a satchel was opened for him. Out came notebooks and letters. And a book. Old. A book of demons and legends. He lifted the red ribbon marker that bore the sign of the cross and revealed a page of vellum that blazed with knotted dragons with membranous wings and crow-headed men and bent sigils that threaten the eye with degenerate harvests. The page also contained a finely-rendered drawing of a stone-fleshed brute.
“Kenneth was searching for this, The Destroyer. As were the Nazis. Oberster SA-Führer Josef Strucker, who is a force within the Thule Society, was on a crusade to discover this weapon and use it as the ultimate war machine to turn the tide of war against The Allies. It is said this magically-empowered creature can level the army of any ideology.”
Stark’s eyed darkened. “It is whispered of here.”
“They were looking for it in . . . Leng. I’ve been informed you’ve been there.”
“I have been many places. I have seen the black-ash vapors of ghosts on faces and breasts. Walked where the deathless constellations yawn. I have seen the ghastly soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult and disturbed the rooms of the Dark Dwarves.’
“And I’ve had to deal with the Nazis . . . On and off, they’ve been in here since ’38.”
“I was informed you had no love for them. I had not heard you worked with them.”
“I said I had to deal with them. Didn’t say I had tea with them. A fox gets in the henhouse you get your shotgun and deal with it.”
Sir Arthur did not smile, but a glow appeared in his eyes.
“My son hated the Nazis. They murdered his fiancée and her family. A lovely girl . . .’
“He—” The old man coughs, fights for breath.
“This sheaf of documents contains every piece of information I have been able to gather since Kenneth began his race to deny the Nazis the evil they dream of manipulating to further their Reign of Hate.”


Stark left Lhasa the next morning. He didn't take much; no one did in this terrain. He had his guns and his wife's picture.
Snow came. The cunning weight of the cold bit.
He walked the frozen trail, grim and silent. A hundred yards became a mile. His dogs and the Sherpa, Lakpa and Jamling, both heavily armed, followed.
Darkness filled the sky the weakened sun could not hold.
Stark sat in his tent. Had a meal. Drank coffee that did little to warm him. Looked at pages of facts and conjectures. Read the reports on Kenneth and the Veiled Woman who rushed after him when others failed. The difficult circumstances of Emily’s near death and the Veiled Woman’s accident attacked the paths of heart and mind. One walked away, whole and alive, the other rose from the darkness scarred. Scarred so badly she forever hid her face from the world and her loved ones. The nights of Emily’s guilt he replayed. Emily could never escape the coils of here by the grace of God. Sister’s before the fall, even she had been turned away from Elizabeth ’s abyss of disgust and horror.
Stark vowed to repay the debt of need his wife had not be able to. If he got to kill Nazis along the way, better still. And if he killed more dark dwarves, left them as litter, that too was a bonus.
History, Ashton, and Outlaw, his Tibetan mastiffs, sat outside his tent. Their fur bristled in the hammer of shrill-wind. Meat or hunger, man, yeti, or movement, they were ready for any fever of coming fire.
The sun came up but brought no warmth.

© 2011 Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

(Thanks to Joe Pulver)


  1. Thanks, Craig!! !

    Proud to be a FRIEND to you,and a FAN of this grEat site!! ! And of course, my deepest thanks for all the support!! ! YOU ARE UNbeatable! !!

    All my bEasly best! !!


  2. Harcore dose of literary Pulverse straight to mind-tooth!


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