“My own rule is that a story cannot produce terror unless it is devised with the care and verisimilitude of an actual hoax.” H.P. Lovecraft, in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith
“Lovecraft was, as the cliché has it, a living bundle of contradictions. A rationalist, an absolute materialist, without a trace of superstition or a flicker of interest in religious matters, he based his entire life work on the supernatural, on evil and fallen gods and sinister magic and hierarchies of transmundane demonic intelligences. It is perhaps because of his complete atheism that he was able to make his malign and imaginary Great Old Ones so convincingly real to his readers. Uninvolved with supernaturalism himself, he could be coldly objective –and he calculated with exquisite finesse the means of rendering his hellish pantheon both credible and terrifying.” — Lin Carter, from “Farewell to the Dreamlands”
The year: 2030. Zach Martine is a prisoner in the Alzheimer’s pod at a maximum security unit. A former soldier, his crime was to tell the world what he’d witnessed on the battlefield. He followed his conscience and now pays the price.
Hated by the other prisoners, he spends his days dodging deadly attacks. Nights find him unable to sleep, haunted by a relentless guilt for his past actions. Martine knows he deserves punishment, but not for the reason he’s in jail. Day after day, the injustice tears at him.
But he finds a way out, a way that allows him to escape while remaining true to his conscience.
The inspiration for this story hit me when I read about prisoners volunteering for medical experiments. One of the prisoners told the reporter he’d agreed to the program because he felt it was a way to atone for the harm he’d done.
I could not get the prisoner’s statement out of my mind. This story grew out of that unforgettable confession.