Fan fiction is an interesting genre to practice one's writing craft. Anthologies from various publishers are always looking for material that fits into arbitrary guidelines by setting a theme, time, genre, type of character, or event. The story must happen within the set perimeters. Every once in awhile the quest will be set to write in the vein of a book or film. If a story is accepted then it is published, more often that is not the case due to few slots and the editor's final decision as to what fits their anthology's theme. What does one do with such a story that has been rejected? A story could be radically changed to make it its own thing and it would be fine to publish elsewhere. This was the case for Under the Moonbow. It was originally written with some vague connections to Clive Barker's Nightbreed. Although none of his characters were used, the mythology was for submission to Midian Unmade: Tales of the Nightbreed in 2013. Moonbow was rejected, although I got some great feedback from Del Howison, the editor. He said that he liked that the story's set up was unusual in that it was mostly interviews and I handled them nicely. There is no greater feeling than excellent feedback in a world of form letter rejections. The characters of Maleki, Doctor West, and all the beasties and others in the asylum were my own. All I had to do was change the mythology and give Maleki a separate history. Maleki was now a daemon of a lost race of the Acutus who had found refuge in Deorsum before the asylum. The story was strong enough to stand up on its own and after a series of submissions it found publication first in MCB Quarterly Volume 3 on Halloween in 2015. Moonbow is now the crowning piece of Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders 2017.
Another story that is still making the rounds is The Loner, it is in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft's work with a Cthulu styled beast as a center piece. No characters or story elements are used from Lovecraft's collected works, so the short is still in submission turnaround. I have revised it some since its first incarnation in the summer of 2012. One version had a wraparound to fit an anthology told as campfire stories, Tales from the Lake Vol 3 in 2016. I received some cool feedback from Monique Snyman of Crystal Lake Publishing in South Africa. She said my story did not make the cut but she enjoyed reading it and would like to see me in her inbox again. Writing this has made me realize how much power positive affirmation has when being rejected. It is easy to get down on oneself and these rays of light are lifesavers. The submission process is time consuming, The usual turnaround period is roughly three months to get an answer. I still do it because the process has helped me grow as a writer. My newest manuscript, Rebel's Edge - Suburbia has been submitted to Macmillian in Australia and the reply should be around May. No matter what the answer, I will not give up something I love to do.
Resonations is the one story I have that is tied to closely to its source, the H.P. Lovecraft inspired film From Beyond. It was submitted in 2014 to Martian Migraine Press for consideration in RESONATOR: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond. In the reply, I was told by Scott Jones that they enjoyed the shout-out to Stuart Gordon's From Beyond and I have a knack for decent characterization, but it was not a fit for their anthology. Again, the praise is nice and makes me feel better about looking at some of these past rejection letters. I am including the short, almost flash fiction, story with a disclaimer.
Disclaimer: Resonations is fan fiction. The setting and some of the characters are the property of the original creators of the Stuart Gordon film of H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond. This is a writing exercise and not for profit. No copyright infringement is intended.
With one flick of the switch, I can change everything.
Derek Wells felt the cool metal of the switch in contrast to the wooden floor beneath his bare feet. He eyed the makeshift laboratory and marveled at all the work that had gone into recreating, from the found notes and plans, the resonator. The base of the machine was rough as were the controls. The strange beauty of the resonator lied in the frosty orb and the smooth pronged tuning forks arrayed atop.
The project had taken months not only to build, but to procure the necessary equipment from Miskatonic University. Derek was a graduate student when he had met his mentor, Doctor Cain. It had started innocently enough with a hand written note card on a rec room board looking for a science assistant. Derek responded on impulse. The whim was out of character, but he convinced himself to go to the address. Doctor Cain struck him as calm, amiable, even shy, yet there was something wild in his eyes. The man had clearly seen something out of the ordinary. Derek was always purposeful and straight forward in attaining his goals. Everything cause had an effect. Although, he knew there had to be something more to life, something undiscovered, he did not believe outside of actual experience. The proposed experiment contradicted that belief. On hearing about a machine allowing a subject to see into another dimension beyond this one, by stimulating one’s pineal gland, Derek was skeptical. He thought that if a frequency could alter your mind than it was probably no different than a hallucinogen.
“Doctor, I don’t see how an electromagnetic field could be used as a pathogen to influence the mind.”
“No, no, it is not a psychotropic wave. It is a magnetic field using sound waves.”
“Sound to stimulate the pineal, are you mad? That is not possible.”
“It is with the resonator.”
The interview had turned Derek off. He was about to excuse himself when he saw her, the other assistant. Barbara was blonde and curvy with her hair smartly pulled back. The twinkle in her eyes from behind bookish glasses killed his resolve to leave. She was the kind of woman that kept him up late at night. So he stayed and listened. And now after all that had passed, he was holding the switch.
The thought of Barbara in a sheer night gown desperate to be touched broke Derek’s concentration. One hand on the switch, Derek explored his bare chest with the other. Gliding over perspiration, he slid his hand down his torso. The headache struck like thunder. They had become more frequent and were always painful when he was excited. He fought to put the erotic images out of his mind and focused on the resonator. Derek looked over the wiring of the machine and on the five tuning forks. Aside from fixing the damage from his mentor’s prior use, he had modified the design.
It will work.
The wooden room was mostly barren except for the machine with its thick electrical cables that ran along the floor and out the door, and a desk where his clothes were neatly folded and stacked. Derek looked over his naked body and for once felt no shame. The resonator had changed him. In fact, he was not even sure who he was anymore, or who he had been before the resonator.
Enough, I need to do it now. I am Derek Wells. I will not forget.
Derek slowly pulled the tight switch down. It creaked and popped as it brought the orb to a colorful violet life. The sounds were filled with electrical hiss and a loud thrum that rose in pitch. The air seemed to vibrate in its wake. Derek reached into the field feeling the hairs rise on his arm. The room changed as it was bathed in a lavender glow. Shadows grew black becoming dense and impenetrable. The headache stopped. The relief washed over Derek like a warm wave. He became aware of the feel of the vibrations on his naked body. Gooseflesh pricked his skin. Every exposed bit of him felt ultra- sensitive. Lost in the moment, he explored and aroused himself.
Distracted by sensation, he did not notice the first creature till it swam by in the thickened air. The thing looked like a jellyfish of sorts, except its body was all wrong being more elongated with varying lengths of pulsing tentacles. It took no notice of him as it drifted past. Eel-like creatures came next into the purplish glow of the resonator. Skin translucent, mouths dangerous and full of teeth, they hovered shaking their tails before swimming on.
My god, there are so many of them. As long as I don’t move in the field they can’t see me.
Derek felt another twinge of his pineal gland, beneath the center of his forehead, and Barbara appeared out of the watery shadows of the room. She was as naked as him, body glistening in the lavender light.
Barbara took a step, and said, “Do you like what you see?”
“I… I don’t believe it’s you.” Derek shuddered.
“Of course it’s me. I saw you watching us before.”
“I never…” Derek trailed off caught up in the sight of her naked flesh and the memories of her and the doctor. The waves washed over him and he wanted her.
Barbara moved closer. “Kiss me.” Her lips pouted sexily.
Derek licked his lips and tried to deny his body. “I won’t.”
Somehow her hand was caressing his chest and reaching down from behind. Derek was excited, yet shocked. Barbara’s lips were close to his. He wanted to kiss her badly, but something was wrong. With a shove he broke away falling slimily to the floor. The hand that had groped him changed. The fingers stretched and the arm pulled back into Barbara. She laughed and the laugh became a scream as her face split. Clear viscous fluid erupted from the fissure as she tore in half. Another form rose. Derek stared in awe at the transformation as Doctor Cain’s visage appeared as the face of a monstrous being.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Wells.”
“Doctor, what have you done to Barbara?” Derek arose, the clear goo dripping off his bare body and falling down in soft splats.
“I set her free, long ago.” The beast laughed and morphed new limbs as its torso oozed slime.
“You killed her. And that thing was a shell?”
“You might say that. Now I need you.”
“You are sick if you think I will join you.” Derek moved towards the resonator.
“You don’t have a choice.” The being shifted and another bulbous shark-like maw sprang forth from its shoulder. The teeth lengthened to razor sharp points.
“You are wrong just as you were wrong about one frequency for the electromagnetic field.” Derek subtly moved towards the switch.
Doctor Cain laughed a deep throated croak of a laugh. “Oh it works, better than it did for the inventor, Pretorius, whose plans I found.”
“You plagiarist, not once did you think of modifying them.”
Doctor Cain said, “You bastard!” And the beast split open.
Tentacles latched onto Derek. He vainly fought off their slippery grip.
“I will devour your mind and be stronger.”
“No, you won’t.”
A timer beeped on the side of the resonator. The fifth tuning fork which was not aglow in violet like the rest grew bright and blindingly blue. The hum of the frequency changed to a higher pitch. The beast disengaged as its flesh bubbled and foamed.
“What have you done?”
“I made it better.” Derek smiled.
Fear showed on Doctor Cain’s bestial face. “You idiot, you have opened a rift.”
“No, I stopped you.”
“You have only escaped, nothing more.”
“What? No, this is wrong. I did the calculations. It should have destroyed you.” The air gelled around Derek coating his bare flesh.
“You fool. I am master here.” The beast shambled out of the altered field into the shadows halting its melting demise. “I’ll be waiting for you.” Doctor Cain roared.
The dimensional rift pulled Derek inside. Naked, he tossed and turned in passage through an ethereal tunnel.
What have I done?
Viscous fluids splashed over his body.
I am lost.
The blue darkened in his dizzying sight and was specked with hints of burnt red until there was only darkness. The electromagnetic hum changed frequency, and then tuned out. A quiet stillness engulfed Derek as he floated in a void.
Who am I?
Without his ordinary senses to guide him, he remembered himself in a different way and became his subconscious self. In the nothingness, more than his mind had changed, yet his resolve grew strong.
I am Derek Wells. I will fix this. I will wait until someone flicks the switch. And I will come back, from beyond.