I wonder when the stars that shine on the surface sky will change.
Each star a long-dead point in space, an infinity away yet so seemingly approachable. For millennia we have seen them, we have discerned their patterns, given them meaning, uncovered their secrets. We have named them, relied on them, befriended them.
Have we always seen the same sky? Have those before us, ones that walked the Earth before our race was even capable of thought, beheld millions of years of difference?
One day the night sky will fill with colour. We will see these specs of gigantic proportions in their final moments of existence. Lights extinguished in a splendorous showing of what their life had been. The sky will fill with the colour of dead stars. Then, darkness.
Will we live to see the day? Or will we, too, be only a spec for another Sun to watch us die, far in the future without us?
How much slaughter can one universe withstand?
Art of London
Spiders in the Basement
by Rubbered Ginny
Until very, very recently, I lived in my family’s old house, on the outskirts a small town. I’d been living all on my own for a while, ever since my mum died. Her death, while very saddening, wasn’t really surprising; she was 86, after all, and not exactly the healthiest woman. I found her one morning, at the base of the staircase, with a very tortured look on her face, and already stone cold. Neither me nor the emergency workers that took her away could think of an explanation for why she was even down there, as her bedroom was on the second floor, but I chalked it up to her age at the time. She had been going a little senile, after all, and may have just been wandering around the house without knowing where she was or where she was going. If only I had known then what I know now…
With mother gone, I was now all alone in a house far too big for just one person. Back in the early 18th century, five families used to live here at once, and now it was just me. Three stories, a garden I had no interest in tending to, and an oppressive weight of emptiness. I would have moved out right then and there, but I was never great at managing my money, and the house was not in good enough shape to just sell outright. So, for the next year or so, I made attempts to clean the place up and get it off my hands. It didn’t go so great. See, I work… worked as a computer for a living, I hadn’t the first idea on how to renovate a home, I was barely able to move a shelf, so my progress was almost non-existent to begin with. And what certainly didn’t help was my increasingly poor sleep.
At first, I thought it was just house noises. There were creaks and groans, and sometimes something that could maybe have been very soft footsteps, but whenever I went to check, nothing was there, and nothing was any different from how I left it. I figured I was just getting a little stir crazy. I even went so far as to invite people over, something I’m not usually comfortable doing. I’m not good with parties. And, you know, it did help. After a night of getting to socialize and have a few drinks, I found I slept a lot better, without being woken up by… well, nothing, in the middle of the night. So, whenever I heard something in the night, I told myself it was all in my mind.
However, telling myself that didn’t stop that uncomfortable, oppressive feeling from growing stronger. That sensation of not being safe in my own home. I was chastising myself whenever I felt a cold chill go down my spine in the evenings, telling myself that I was acting like I was four years old again, scared of a shadow on the wall, that there was no reason to be this nervous. But, obviously, that didn’t make it go away. As time went on, I started genuinely losing sleep, going to work exhausted, and coming home with a heavy rock in the pit of my stomach. One day, after almost getting into a car crash because my thoughts were occupied with worry and seemingly irrational fear and my brain thought that driving the tin death can wasn’t worth focusing on, I decided that it couldn’t go on like this. I took a week off work, and I was going to use that time to finally buckle down, renovate the house, and, with any luck, find the source of my constant trepidation. Or, failing that, at least get it into a sell-able state, so I could at least run away from the problem.
Since I’m not exactly handy, as I mentioned before, I decided to start by clearing out the cellar, since anything that ended up down there over the years would not be missed if I broke it. They were almost entirely old, broken things stacked on cheap shelves and coated in spiderwebs, and so they went directly into the trash. It was exhausting labour, but I was fine with that, as it meant I would have an easier time going to sleep. During my many trips from the cellar to the trash cans outside, occasionally swatting an overeager spider off my clothes, something caught my attention. Our cellar was made up of several small rooms, one of which contained the central heating, as well as a boiler. We put the boiler in there because this room had a small sewer grate surrounded by a slight decline in the floor, which meant that if the boiler ever broke and spilled water all around it (which had happened on multiple occasions), that water would eventually drain away. My eyes only fell on the grate accidentally, but when they did, I suddenly felt my heart leap up in my throat, and I dropped the stack of broken flowerpots I was carrying. After I finished cursing myself and the universe, heart racing, I turned my attention back to the grate. I hesitantly went and took a closer look. I really can’t tell you what I thought I saw; a flicker of movement, maybe? A slight glint of light? I don’t know, but my subconscious mind recognized something there, something my conscious mind didn’t understand. Investigating it now, I couldn’t see anything unusual. It stank pretty badly up close, but that was to be expected. Shining my flashlight into the darkness unveiled nothing of interest, either, just old stone bricks and the water’s surface some ways down. I think I sat there staring down that hole for a solid minute before finally convincing my subconscious brain that I only imagined that face it thought it saw. I closed the door and got back to my work, cleaning up all the pieces of flowerpot, now with a constant sense of unease creeping down my back.
News of Art, Art of News
An Interview With A Curious Hunter
We had been approached by a hunter of certain import by the name of Emiran Wolfgang. The following letter, which had caught our attention, was delivered to our offices in Doubt Street:
While I am of the understanding that this is not the most 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘵 channel to contact you, it is, in my current predicament, the only one available to me at the current time.
▇▇▇▇▇ (read: Uncouth) Devils have been after me after an unfortunate scuffle with one of the couriers from the embassy. He dropped a soul container on my boots so I ▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇ (read: forgave him and moved on) and subsequently they’ve hired urchins to drop aeolian screams down my chimney and steal my laudanum supplies. Subsequently, I had polite conversation with that ▇▇▇▇▇▇ (read: pleasant) man, G_______h I think his name was and purchased my own suite at the Royal Beth. In my current state, I am to stay here until I can sleep without seeing viric when I wake up. I have elected to contact you to perhaps arrange an interview. While this ▇▇▇▇▇▇▇ (read: unpleasant) headache of mine is persistent and my paranoia of platemail nuns is ever-growing, I still retain some modicum of lucidity. I will admit, my notability is minimal and the monster-hunters are yet to get back to me on my trials of initiation suggestion of collecting a blanket’s worth of ▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇ (read: infernal hats) in lieu of whatever they had in store, but I can provide some interesting stories here and there. I will have Claude edit this, -Emiran Wolfgang
Intrigued as we were, one of our journalists took up the investigation and contacted Mr. Wolfgang in an arrangement of an interview. Today, dear readers, we bring this most intriguing of discussions to you.
Found on pages 4-5.
CONFESSIONS AT HALLOWMAS
So it begins, the season of fog, the season of secrets. Masked Attendants walk the streets of London, carrying whispered words and held-back tears of their friends, neighbours, strangers – confessions from those brave enough to share them. Join us, dear readers, as that which weighs the soul now comes to see the dark of day.
The Saffron Fox lives.
I carry the sin of ending that which did not breathe, thinks but cannot speak, and burned instead of born. It did not ask to be created, but circumstances dictated that its life be cut short lest life for all becomes an endless burden. Nevertheless, its destruction is not one I take lightly, and the coming of my own Reckoning may hasten as a result. Until that fateful hour comes however, I must push past the regrets to ensure that all shall be well…
[The message is signed with printed pictures of cards – four sevens flanking an Ace of Bats]
Here is my confession; I know you are not real. None of this is real. Words on a page trying to trick me! I could burn down this false city and none of it would matter. I know the truth! I know of Zahir!
I must confess something small to someone very near and dear to me, who nonetheless remains ever so far. If you would be so kind, please print this in your following edition for them to read: I didn’t take anything, my friend.
First time they try to use their whistles? Ergot powder, right into their throats. Can’t even trace it back to me.
Our office postboxes are still open to any and all confessions.
Ask Mother Goose
Dear Mother Goose,
Oh, my brain, a mush, a soup.
Rest, now, before it is too late. Recuperate, my dear, and face the morning strong anew.