Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Tentacles of Love"

Yesterday Ellora's Cave (www.ellorascave.com) released my humorous erotic Lovecraftian romance "Tentacles of Love" in their "Naughty Nuptials" Quickie series. This story was inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's classic tale "The Dunwich Horror." Since the premise of the June "Naughty Nuptials" promotional series is weddings, I played with the concept of how an ordinary woman would react to discovering she's about to marry into a family that has interbred with the "gods" of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Suppose Wilbur Whateley and his huge, invisible, monstrous brother in "The Dunwich Horror" were actually nice guys looking for love? Distinguished SF author and editor Marion Zimmer Bradley expressed her dislike for Lovecraft's story, outraged that a "poor deformed boy" would be treated as an object of loathing and horror. After all, don't a person's inner qualities matter more than a few tentacles? Coincidentally, a few days ago I read a "Dunwich Horror" sequel by Stanley C. Sargent, "Black Brat of Dunwich," wherein Wilbur Whateley's former tutor reveals that Wilbur, despite his grotesque appearance, wasn't evil, just a lonely misfit. He wanted a copy of the NECRONOMICON to control his monstrous twin, not unleash him on the world. This story appears in Sargent's collection THE TAINT OF LOVECRAFT and has also been anthologized. It's much darker than my novelette, which (I hope) comes across as funny and sexy. Here's an excerpt from the heroine's first meeting with her fiance's twin. Those who've read Lovecraft's story will recognize the allusion in the line, "he looks more like our father than I do."

Excerpt from "Tentacles of Love," copyright 2007 by Margaret L. Carter:

“What? Who? Since when?” Hitching up the straps of her sundress, Lauren glared at Blake. “All this time, you somehow forgot to mention you had a brother?”

He flinched at her accusing tone. “We’re twins but he looks more like our father than I do.” He hardly ever talked about his parents. His mom, who’d died before Lauren had met him, had been a single mother. Other than mentioning that the pregnancy had resulted from a brief fling, he’d said nothing about his father. “Wilbur lives here. He never goes out.”

“Wilbur?” She couldn’t help associating the name with a pig in a children’s book.

“Named after one of my mom’s relatives a couple of generations back.” He stepped behind her to zip up the dress.

She dug a comb out of her purse and hastily whipped her hair into shape. “You’re saying he’s in the house now? Good grief, why did you let me scream?”

“Don’t worry, the walls are thick.”

“Why doesn’t he go out?”

“He’s—not like other people,” Blake said with a nervous clearing of his throat. “One thing I love about you is how open-minded and compassionate you are. Nothing seems to faze you.”

“Such as the fact that your family’s a little strange? No biggie. My aunt collects velvet Elvis paintings. I’ve had plenty of practice in open-mindedness.”

“Seriously, you rescued me from terminal geekhood. Miskatonic University alumni aren’t noted for our social graces.”

“Hey, before you, I’d never met a guy who could quote Plato in the original Greek and Olaus Wormius in medieval Latin. Major turn-on.” Although she still didn’t know Olaus Wormius’ claim to fame, the quotations had sounded impressively ominous.

“See, you have a talent for taking weirdness in stride. That’s why I thought you might be able to accept us. Even Wilbur. But I was still scared enough to put off introducing you.”

She folded her arms. “So this is the big secret you’ve been hiding? You thought I might break our engagement because you have a brother who’s a little different? God, do you really think I’m that shallow?”

“No way!” He strode over to her and clasped her shoulders. “It’s not that simple. You’ll see. But I have faith in you.”

Retreating from him, she said, “Okay, let’s get this over with.” She still simmered with indignation that he had hidden such vital information.

“Guess I can’t blame you for getting angry. Just bear with me ‘til you know all the facts, okay?”

She responded with a grudging nod.

“We have to go upstairs.” He led her to a door where the hall dead-ended and opened it to show a narrow flight of steps. He flipped on a light switch.

“Your family makes him live in the attic?”

“He likes it up there. It’s arranged to suit his special needs.”

Still barefoot, she followed Blake to the top of the stairs, where a bare bulb on the ceiling showed a long, well-swept room lined with stacks of boxes, miscellaneous furniture and the gable windows she’d noticed from outside. At the far end a wall with a closed door blocked off part of the space. “Hold on, does that lead to the window that’s boarded up?”

“Yeah.”

“So you don’t keep a wife locked in the attic, just a brother?”

“Before you go all ballistic about how we’re mistreating him, wait until you’ve seen the whole picture. His room is customized for him and part of that involves covering the window.” Knocking on the door, he said, “Wilbur? I’ve brought Lauren to meet you, the way I promised.”

A whistling noise, like wind howling through a cavern, emanated from the other side. “Well, here goes.” He clasped her hand and opened the door.

Splinters of rainbow light, like the inside of a kaleidoscope, struck her eyes. After blinking a couple of times, she realized she was seeing the colors through a shimmering curtain of mist. Blake stepped across the threshold, pulling her with him. A chill shuddered through her at the moment she entered the room. The floor tilted, then straightened. She clutched Blake’s arm and waited for the vertigo to fade.

Why did the room seem to stretch twenty feet or more ahead of them? “There can’t be this much space up here. Is it some kind of optical illusion?”

“This room isn’t exactly all here. All in this world, I mean. That’s one reason we covered the window. People got too curious about the weird lights.”

She stared at the—object or creature?—that occupied the other end of the chamber. A floor-to-ceiling translucent mound of rainbow-colored bubbles filled the space, emitting blue and violet sparks whenever its surface rippled. A pseudopod oozed outward for a second, then withdrew into the mass, leaving a glittery trail on the floorboards.

“What is that? Is it alive?” The thing struck her as beautiful in an alien, mind-wrenching way. Maybe the family secret was that the mysterious Wilbur performed mad-scientist illicit DNA experiments.

Blake put his arm around her waist. “That’s my brother.”

“What?” she yelped. “Where?”

The mammoth rainbow-bubble cluster extended six tentacles like the tendrils of a jellyfish, and four eye-stalks popped up at random spots on its surface. “Welcome, Lauren.” The voice vibrated through the floor and resonated in the pit of her stomach like organ music. “I’m so happy to meet my new sister.”

Gray spots clumped in front of her eyes. Her head reeled, her knees wobbled and the floor lurched up to meet her.

When her vision cleared, she found herself leaning on Blake with only his snug embrace holding her upright. The conglomeration of bubbles and tentacles hadn’t disappeared.

She screamed and hid her face on Blake’s chest.

He patted her on the back. “Calm down, love. He’d never hurt you. You see why I tried to prepare you for a little shock?”

“Shock?” she shrieked. “Little? You’ve just told me your brother is a giant, glowing blob.”

-end of excerpt-

2 comments:

david gray said...

Nice! You know, if Lauren were an average ten-year-old boy, she'd be saying, "Wow! Cool! Can he come to school with me for show and tell?"

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