“The Gathering” (part 4)
EDITOR’s NOTE: The ninth issue of Fall of the Cthulhu will be available in stores this Wednesday, January 9.
Plot: A girl full of dreams dances her way into ours, drenching them in the blood and carnage of the abattoir she calls home.
Comments: Nelson quotes T.S. Eliot to set the tone for his winsome story, and it really is his most lyrical installment yet. “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” is a mysterious and enigmatic stream of imagery and longing, and the dancer enamored of masks in this story is freely associating in her own dream sequence, as she moves (with her father’s invitation) from the land of elder creatures she was born in through stages to the waking world of base and fragile humans. She’s apparently a requisite part of the ongoing “Gathering” that might just end the world, so her rising into ours is anything but good news.
But Nelson makes it a fascinating trip, with clever poetry that narrates a consciousness that only we can hear, because the Mute One never speaks. He achieves a compelling ironic tone, as she is as childish as she is long-corrupted, and her inner narrative reads like a Dr. Seuss book full of evil perversion. Quiligotti’s work is fluid and dream-like, showing how the stream of consciousness of our anti-heroine impacts the world around her, as transformation after vile transformation occurs. What she touches seldom survives, whether it be newborn children or dark demons of night. She judges and alters and mocks and plays, seemingly oblivious to the carnage in her wake.
Nelson’s world of evil features a growing cast of familiar characters, and this new one is merely another addition to a looming pantheon of anti-gods. Grimmer than any fairy tale, the idea that this is a light-hearted tome that would horrify children is an amusing and difficult balance that artist and writer both pull off. The masks of the Mute One change with each errant thought, and she moves through it all, untouchable, detached, impervious. To the unwary she warns. To the innocent she corrupts. But her worse punishment is for the needlessly rude, because some missteps are just fatally stupid.
This tale reads like an interlude in the earlier tales of corruption, because this creature was vile from the start. The beautiful veneer that coats this story in familiar, comforting style only exaggerates the horror within. This is a comic that delivers exactly what it promises, whether you’re ready or not.
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