The Lengths that He Would Go To

Dale W. Glaser

The Lengths that He Would Go To

8th March 2018 · Fiction, Issue 1, Reprint

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Trigger warnings
Explicit fantasy violence.

Byron Weller had done plenty of dishonest things while attempting to hook up. There was the time junior year in high school when he had forced his best friend, Amy Gwintney, to drive in meandering circles up and down half the back country roads around town until close to one in the morning. This mobile surveillance had begun because Byron thought he had glimpsed Nathan Robinson’s car passing Amy’s, recognizing it from the previous summer’s theater camp. Since Nathan went to Bridgeford, their rival high school, Byron hadn’t crossed paths with him since August, and didn’t want to wait any longer to see him and his perfect lips again. But Byron had told Amy that it was Marcus Smith’s car they were chasing, since she had the hots for him. That night ended in failure, but was far from the end of Byron’s romantically oriented duplicity.

The pattern continued in the middle of his first semester on campus, when he had shown up in the lecture hall for Economics 203 (Statistical Modeling) for four consecutive weeks’ worth of Tuesdays and Thursdays, slowly seating himself closer and closer to Trevor Jones each time, until he could almost reach out and touch Trevor’s beautiful hair. Byron had never taken Econ 202, or Econ 101 or any other pre-req class before noticing Trevor and following him to Zigler Hall that first Tuesday. The weekend after his eighth unofficial audit, he very purposefully bumped into Trevor at Psi Nu’s Jungle Jam, played it off as coincidental, and made small talk about Professor Iovino’s annoying speech impediment over flat, warm beers until they progressed to making out on under the back balcony, including much satisfying stroking of that amazing hair. And, of course, there was last summer, when he assumed a completely new identity as Manfred the foreign exchange student in order to seduce the rookie lifeguard at the pool. The deception had probably been overkill for getting innocent, over-eager, all taut muscles Daryl into bed, but proved invaluable when Daryl got entirely too clingy and ‟Manfred” could conveniently disappear back to Switzerland or Sweden or wherever his fake accent was supposed to have originated.

But far and away, the most ridiculous falsehood Byron had pulled off so far had been pretending that he was interested in medieval and renaissance history, not merely interested but downright obsessed enough to join the campus chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, all to spend a little more time with Jerrod Putnam. Jerrod was a year ahead of Byron and had devoted his junior year campaigning for Seneschal of the Barony. Byron hated himself a little bit for knowing what a Seneschal and a Barony were, but learning the lingo that Jerrod lived and breathed was the price he was apparently willing to pay. The SCA meant so much to Jerrod and Jerrod, in turn, meant a lot to Byron. At least, Byron had a strong feeling that Jerrod could mean a lot to him. He was different from Daryl the lifeguard and Trevor the business major and Nathan the cutest Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream ever. Jerrod was cute, too, but he was also more real, attractive to Byron on a more primal, interior level. Byron Weller did not believe in either love at first sight or in soulmates, but Jerrod Putnam had come closer than anyone else on Earth to making him reevaluate the possibilities of their existence.

Jerrod was also a gentle soul, and that made Byron less aggressive than usual in response, so his original plan to attend a meeting or two of the SCA and then suggest he and Jerrod go off somewhere to exchange sonnets privately had turned into Byron’s regular participation in all the club activities and events. Some of it, he had to admit, had been fun, in a deeply dorky way. Overall he was in a holding pattern slowly orbiting Jerrod, afraid of overstepping and scaring him off. He needed an organic moment to present itself naturally, and Jerrod was usually too busy for anything like that to spontaneously happen. But every so often they would exchange a glance or a smile or brush hands and Byron knew he couldn’t give up on Jerrod, not yet.

When Jerrod texted him on a Thursday afternoon and asked if he wanted to hang out that evening, Byron thought his slow play was finally about to pay off. He waited twenty minutes, giving his phone seven separate checks to mark the passing time, before texting back that he’d be down. Jerrod texted back ‟Meet me at the Barony hall at 11” and Byron typed ‟K”, but deleted the letter unsent, reminding himself to stay cool.

The Barony hall was an old pottery studio in the woods, owned by the campus but no longer used by the Fine Arts department. It had in fact been unused so long that it had started collapsing, which allowed the SCA to petition to take over the structure as a headquarters, meeting place, and storage facility. All of that had been before Byron’s association with the group, but he understood that Jerrod had been a big part of the reconstruction effort. It was in good physical shape now but, as far as hookup locations went, the place gave Byron flashbacks to high school, furtive kissing and groping in secret, neglected places. Without a doubt one of the better things about college was having dorm rooms and off-campus apartments for late night trysts. Couldn’t Jerrod tell his roommate to find someplace else to crash, or even just request that he grab a few beers until the bars closed at two? Then again, knowing how much Jerrod adored all the trappings of the SCA, Byron figured maybe Jerrod had a thing for the Barony hall. Maybe his inhibitions were naturally lower among the tapestries. Hey, whatever worked.

Byron left his dorm at quarter to eleven, strolling across the quad with an anticipatory grin on his face that he was not even cognizant of until it abruptly fell when the Barony hall came into view. Standing at the end of the gravel and dirt trail was not Jerrod, but Logan Huff. Byron shoved down all his feelings of disappointment, his daydreams of one-on-one time with Jerrod shattered. He reminded himself that he had been playing it cool so far and could play it cool a bit longer.

‟Hey, Logan,” he offered nonchalantly as he drew closer.

Logan’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at him. He nodded in a way that could have been interpreted as a greeting, or a warning. Possibly both. Byron was willing to abandon the chitchat he hadn’t felt like making anyway while he tried to guess what Logan was thinking. Had Logan also been under the impression that he and Jerrod were set up for something like a date? Byron doubted that Jerrod was playing both of them. Jerrod was so sincere, so earnest, those kinds of domineering mind games were the farthest thing from him. Moreover, he didn’t see how Jerrod could be into Logan at all. It wouldn’t have surprised him terribly to learn that Logan was Jerrod’s type, because Logan was a lot of guys’ type. He was tall, he had a runner’s build. His flawless skin and piercing blue-green eyes were alluring. But Byron never got a gay vibe from Logan, nor any kind of straight vibe, for that matter. Some people were asexual, or so consumed with other priorities that they might as well be, and that was Logan down to the bone. He was always intense, sometimes brooding, sometimes wickedly sarcastic, but never particularly plugged into the same mating rituals as everyone else. As far as Byron had ever been able to tell, Logan never socialized with other SCA folks, and attended the bare minimum number of meetings and events to be considered a member in good standing. He usually spent his time at events reading books from the university’s special collection which only SCA members were allowed access to, another of Jerrod’s little victories.

Of course, Logan’s book fetish still left the possibility of an awkward love triangle: Byron lusting after Jerrod and Jerrod pining hopelessly for Logan, who neither noticed nor cared. Byron had never keyed in on Jerrod’s attitude toward Logan before, but he resolved to pay attention tonight. While playing it cool, he reminded himself. He slouched casually against the wall of the Barony hall, while Logan stood stiffly and scanned for Jerrod’s approach.

Jerrod arrived within minutes, right at eleven.

‟Hey,” he hailed them both. ‟Sorry. Hope I didn’t keep you guys waiting long.”

Byron shrugged.

‟I’m still just waiting to find out what’s up,” he said. ‟Bit late to be holding court.”

Jerrod smiled as he pulled the keyring from his front pocket and started to unlock the door.

‟It’s gonna be cool. Right, Logan?”

Logan snorted involuntarily and tried to cover it with a laugh.

‟Unbelievably cool,” he promised, trailing Jerrod through the door. Byron followed, crossing the threshold just as Jerrod was hitting the lights.

The main room of the Barony hall was fairly spacious, and everything in it looked as it had at the last SCA meeting. Overstuffed cushions and Ottomans fished from second-hand stores had been refurbished to look period-appropriate. In the corners, a couple of slant-topped tables, one complete and holding an open illuminated manuscript. The other table was a reclamation work in progress, pale unstained new elements grafted onto the darker salvageable bits of the antique original. Straight ahead was a door leading to the area that had once housed the kilns, when the hall had still been a pottery studio. Thanks to a demolished wall it had been converted to a semi-enclosed forge area used by the armorers to fashion breastplates and shields and other steel equipment. Another door, to their right as they entered the hall, connected to a large supply closet housing everything from cookware to handmade period garb.

Byron watched Jerrod out of the corner of his eye as Jerrod visibly swelled with pride the moment he crossed the threshold. He loved the trappings of romantic chivalry so damn much, and Byron liked him all the more for that unabashed joy. This imaginary pocket of time they collectively escaped into was how Jerrod wanted the rest of the world to function all the time.

If only.

Logan slipped off his backpack and opened it, pulling out a leather-bound book of his own. He surveyed the room until he spotted a small table, which he pointed out to Byron.

‟Move that to the middle of the room.”

Byron blinked.

‟Move it yourself.”

Logan had been flipping the pages of the book he had brought, and paused to look up contemptuously. ‟I am trying to find something quickly. Would you please move the table? And Jerrod, would you please bring out the bowl?”

Every time he said the word ‛please’ it sounded derogatory.

Jerrod was in motion immediately, approaching a locked cabinet with his key ring swinging around one finger. Byron rolled his eyes a little and moved the table. Logan set the book down without looking up or saying thank you, continuing to skim through the pages. Byron glanced at the text out of curiosity but every line was gibberish. Perhaps Manfred the exchange student would have been able to decipher it.

Jerrod returned with the bowl, which was about the size of a bathroom sink, cast in bronze and inlaid with various stone tiles, forming a mosaic that Byron had never noticed before. He had seen the bowl, which someone had donated to the SCA in the past, around here and there, most recently filled with apples and pears as Kaitlyn Moore had used it as the subject for a still life. The pattern inside the bowl was hypnotic, weird geometries coming together in meaningful imagery just when Byron was about to look away, then dispersing into random visual static when he looked more closely. There was just enough room for the base of the bowl to rest on the tabletop above the spine of the book.

Logan made no acknowledgment of Jerrod’s contribution either, which Byron found at least a little gratifying; if Logan were looking to forge any kind of connection with Jerrod, he was passing up some easy opportunities. Hopefully Jerrod would pick up on that as well. For the moment, Jerrod took Logan’s fixation on the book at the expense of social niceties in stride. Jerrod was able to take most things in stride, even Cam Hadley’s body odor, Byron realized. Cam was a good Marshall, but he worked up a powerful sweat in his padded practice armor, and the resulting funk was impervious to washing away.

Jerrod indicated a couple of nearby cushions and Byron followed him, lowering himself on the brocaded surface while looking expectantly at Jerrod. Once he was settled on the cushion beside Byron’s, Jerrod said, ‟Logan wants to do a demonstration at the next meeting. It’s some kind of mystical ritual reenactment, you know, alchemy, hermetic theurgy? He asked if he could do a run-through tonight.”

‟And he had to do it here?” Byron asked.

‟He said that bowl was a perfect prop,” Jerrod shrugged. ‟I guess he wanted to practice here since he’s going to do the actual demo here for everyone else.”

‟So why’d you ask me to come?”

‟I thought you’d be interested, since you’re into all the occult secrets and stuff,” Jerrod said.

‟That’s a pretty broad category,” Byron replied, desperately trying to remember if he had ever feigned an interest in ritual magic or anything remotely connected to it while interacting with Jerrod. A conversation about the DaVinci Code? A joke about Madonna’s interest in kabbalah? A passing reference to Blue Oyster Cult?

Jerrod, as always, was unfazed. ‟OK, fair point. I don’t know, I just felt like we needed a third person. To avoid any potential appearance of impropriety.” He spoke with his customary sincerity, but managed to smile self-deprecatingly at the end.

‟Oh, of course,” Byron agreed. ‟We wouldn’t want to be accused of anything … inappropriate.”

Jerrod chuckled as if he were deliberating whether or not to continue flirting.

‟Whoa,” he said, ‟that is a big knife.”

Reflexively, Byron peeked down at his crotch, before realizing that Jerrod was actually looking at Logan. Logan had a tight grip on the hilt of a weapon with a blade that was not only large but deadly-looking. The phrase ‟ceremonial dagger” flitted through Byron’s mind right before Logan held his open hand above the bronze bowl and slashed his palm with the knife, drawing a bright red line of blood. Logan clenched his fist hard enough to make the tendons stand out in his forearms, as blood dripped rapidly into the bowl.

‟Jesus!” Byron yelped.

‟Logan, what …? Is that your blood, your real blood?” Jerrod demanded.

Logan spoke, but not to answer Jerrod. The words coming out of his mouth as he stared at the splattered ruby pattern dotting the inside of the bowl were in an unrecognizable language, something harsh and guttural and inherently alien. ‟Shtunggli shogg … uln geb ooboshu s’uhn … nilgh’ri throd … goka hai … goka hai!”

Jerrod pushed himself to his feet.

‟All right, look, Logan, if this is you hurting yourself as some kind of cry for help, let’s talk about it, OK?”

Logan ignored Jerrod, throwing open his lacerated hand as he came to the end of the incantation with a vehement ‟Uaaah!” Byron jerked away involuntarily as blood flicked from Logan’s splayed fingers. Jerrod could be as concerned about Logan’s mental health as he wanted; Byron was concerned about hepatitis.

The bowl moved. Logan had not touched it, as far as Byron could see, or the table it rested on, but the bowl wobbled back and forth under its own power. The rim dipped on one side, then the other, gradually establishing a circular pattern as the bowl spun on its base, faster and faster. The crimson fluid in the bowl sloshed in the tide of centrifugal force but never spilled, despite the fact that it looked like much more blood than Logan had shed, more than he could have lost while remaining upright.

Logan smiled, but it was a snarl of triumph, the aggressive teeth-baring of violent vindication.

‟You never knew,” he sneered. ‟I wasn’t sure how far you’d let me get, but you honestly never knew what you had here. Did you really think this was a fruit bowl? Idiots.”

Jerrod neither answered the question nor rose to the bait of the insult, as for once he was at a loss for words. The bowl continued to spin with dizzying speed, and from its bottom a glow emanated, a fearfully cold luminescence like distant starlight. The blood darkened and surged, gathering and rising in strange coagulated shapes.

‟All of you,” Logan growled, ‟so busy playing dress up, playing make believe, that you never realized you had a piece of history in your grasp, a ceremonial relic for summoning a shoggoth servant. But of course none of you would be prepared to make the sacrifices to control that kind of power, even if it meant the world would be yours for the taking.”

Within moments the volume of the blood was more than could be contained. Rather than overflowing onto the table it rose up as sinuously as a hypnotized cobra emerging from a fakir’s basket. The substance no longer resembled blood at all. It had become black and viscous with a sheen like the oily smears of color on rancid meat. At the crown of the ever-growing amorphous column, an eye opened, a sphere of bilious ochre with a black pinprick pupil.

Byron and Jerrod both screamed, while Logan laughed mockingly. More eyes of different sizes opened, clustered asymmetrically around the first, most of them similar shades of unhealthy yellow, although one was a bruised purplish-red and another was an unsettlingly brilliant emerald. The grotesque mass continued to expand, its top nearly brushing the ceiling. A fissure split and widened halfway down the protoplasmic column, the edges of the orifice extending ichorous matter into the shape of fangs.

Tekeli-li,” the shoggoth croaked.

Tekeli-li hafh’drn WGAH’N!” Logan shouted.

The dark cylindrical glob twisted around to direct most of its mismatched eyeballs at Logan. Four distinct pseudopods extruded outward from the center of the mass, forming limbs that approximated tentacles and spider legs simultaneously.

Tekeli-li,” the shoggoth cried out again. ‟Tekeli-LI!”

Ch’yeh wgah’n! Mnahn’ …” Logan answered, only to be interrupted by the shoggoth lunging for him, pulling the bronze bowl off the table to gong madly against the studio floor. The fanged orifice clamped around Logan’s left arm, swallowing everything from the elbow down, while the four inhuman limbs swiped at his head and chest.

Logan screamed in equal parts pain and affronted disbelief, stabbing furiously at the shoggoth with the ceremonial dagger still clenched in his right hand. The blade punctured the quivering surface again and again, spilling oily black fluid that bubbled noxiously where it struck solid surfaces. The abomination’s mouth remained closed around Logan’s other arm, inexorably drawing him in, until his shoulder was flush with the fangs.

At the base of its black, elongated body, the shoggoth was growing six more limbs, thick and squat like the legs of a tortoise. The thing braced itself on its cluster of lower appendages and whipped around savagely, lifting Logan off his feet and tossing him through the air like a rag doll. Byron watched Logan smash into the front door of the studio, and a part of his brain still capable of anything other than raw shock noted that most of Logan’s left arm was gone except for a ruined scarlet stump. Then Byron was grabbing Jerrod by the wrist and pulling him towards the forge.

‟What … where …?” Jerrod struggled to speak, dazed.

‟Getting the hell out of here. This way,” Byron answered. He rattled the doorknob, locked. He turned to Jerrod for the keys, but spotted the shoggoth taking notice of them. He pulled Jerrod away from the door as the monstrosity slung towards them, and bolted for the supply closet. He shoved Jerrod in, pulled the door closed behind them. A massive thud of the shoggoth’s bulk against the door followed, but the barrier held. The shoggoth loosed a howl that Byron could hear receding, as the monster retreated back to its unfinished business with Logan.

‟Wait, what about …”

‟Logan’s good as dead,” Byron cut him off. ‟And brought it on himself, frigging psycho. Summoning that … that …” Byron groped for the right description but found none. He tugged Jerrod toward the back of the closet. ‟Come on, I think we can push through the ceiling back here, maybe crawl out … there’s vents in the attic, right?”

Jerrod stood rooted in place. ‟That thing … what do you think it’s going to do after … after it’s done with Logan?”

‟I don’t know, and that’s why we need to be as far away from here as possible by then,” Byron snapped, awkwardly rearranging collapsed tourney tents in the confined, dark space. ‟Give me a hand!”

‟It could go anywhere, attack anyone,” Jerrod reasoned. ‟We can’t possibly warn everyone in time. No one would believe us, anyway.”

‟Their loss!” Byron retorted.

Jerrod shook his head slowly. ‟We have to stop it.”

‟We?” Byron felt his eyes popping. ‟We?” From the other side of the door, a scream reverberated. The indignation and outrage were gone from Logan’s voice, leaving only the sounds of mortal terror and excruciating pain.

Jerrod turned away from Byron and reached for the weapons rack, shifting rattan swords along the rails before finally drawing out a rapier. Jerrod twisted the blunted shell casing and rubber cap off the tip, revealing the needle-sharp point beneath. He looked back to Byron and said, ‟We’re the only ones here,” before moving back toward the closet door.

‟Dammit, dammit, dammit,” Byron seethed as he strode toward the rack and grabbed an axe for himself, a heavy weapon that was one of smelly Cam Hadley’s pet projects. Too dangerous for the official melee events, too big for the throwing competitions, the thing looked viciously cool, like something out of Heavy Metal cover art. Maybe Byron had said as much out loud to Cam once, and that was where Jerrod got the idea about his interest in swords and sorcery. Right now all Byron was focused on was his desire to split open a skull with the axe, although he wasn’t sure if that skull belonged to Jerrod, Logan, or the monstrosity awaiting them. He also didn’t know if the shoggoth even had a skull, or if Logan still had enough of one intact to be split, but he followed Jerrod through the opening door nevertheless.

The shoggoth loomed opposite them in the center of chaos and carnage, gnashing its fangs mindlessly as it probed the edges of the hall’s front door with its upper appendages, seeking purchase to pry it open. The floor was strewn with torn cushions, shredded tapestries, and overturned tables, all painted in visceral red and abyssal black. Other than the bloodstains, there was no sign of Logan. No, Byron corrected himself, there was one: a single shoe in the far corner, speckled in clotted crimson.

The shoggoth rotated and undulated toward them. ‟Tekeli-li!”

Jerrod darted toward the monstrosity and struck a fencing pose directly in front of it. Byron stared, horrified, as Jerrod saluted with his rapier, then quickly parried away the shoggoth’s swiping ebon claws. With a deft lunge, Jerrod’s sword pierced one of the shoggoth’s larger eyes, a pale yellow globe that spurted stygian fluid from the wound. Byron felt a surge of hope, which curdled almost immediately as the shoggoth knocked Jerrod across the room. Jerrod crashed awkwardly into a bookcase, and the shoggoth writhed after him.

Byron’s fingers felt numb around the haft of the axe, and his stomach churned miserably, as if he had just woken up from a night spent doing Jaeger bombs until dawn. He willed his legs to push him across the room, raising the axe over his head as he neared the shoggoth. He brought the weapon down on the abomination’s back with all his might, and the heavy blade sank satisfyingly into the murk-swirled flesh.

The shoggoth twisted around reflexively, hissing through its fleshy fangs, turning the majority of its insane constellation of eyes on Byron. Its four upper limbs were drawn back to strike. Byron tore the axe out of the shoggoth’s central mass and swung for the nearest arm, severing it from the body in a burst of beetle black gore. The shoggoth hissed again, but a new pseudopod budded from the spot and began to reform the dismembered limb at once.

‟Oh, come on,” Byron muttered.

Tekkhkhkk …” the shoggoth began, before the point of Jerrod’s rapier emerged from its open maw. The sword tip wiggled back and forth as Jerrod twisted the hilt against the back of the shoggoth. For all Byron knew, Jerrod was trying to saw the monstrosity’s head in half. The shoggoth never gave Jerrod a chance, snapping the length of its entire body like a shimmering black bullwhip and driving Jerrod upwards into the ceiling. Jerrod went limp and tumbled off the shoggoth as the creature spat out the rapier.

‟No!” Byron shouted, charging and swinging the axe, tearing a chunk of flesh from the shoggoth’s underside. Byron swung again, and again, and again, leaving deep, suppurating gouges in the creature’s hide with every chop, but the wounds had little effect on the shoggoth. As Byron made another attempt to hurt it, the shoggoth distorted its own shape, squirming out of reach, then slamming Byron’s chest with its head like a hellish battering ram. Byron stumbled backwards and crumpled to the floor.

TEKELI-LI!” the shoggoth roared, a nightmarish assault on Byron’s ears that made him wish he were already dead. He curled into a ball on his side, waiting for the killing blow to fall. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes to see what the shoggoth was waiting for. The first thing his eyes focused on was the ceremonial bowl, still faintly glowing. With sharp pains shooting through his neck, Byron turned his head toward the beast.

The shoggoth had returned its attentions to Jerrod, lying motionless on the floor. Byron wasn’t sure why the monster was fixated on Jerrod. Maybe it considered Jerrod’s attempt to stab it through the brain to be a greater indignity than Byron’s flailing hacking at its midsection, even though both efforts seemed equally ineffective. Maybe it consumed souls when it ingested bodies, and Jerrod’s was a more appealing source of nourishment. That made a certain amount of sense to Byron, although he also suspected he might be nursing a minor concussion.

Byron tried to stand, felt the world tilt on rolling wave of vertigo, and braced himself on his hands and knees. He crawled toward the bronze bowl, pushing the axe along in front of him. The shoggoth was still advancing on Jerrod, but slowly, savoring the moment. Byron flipped the bowl upside down, clutched the haft of the axe, and rose to his knees. Arms trembling, he raised the axe, bringing it down in a savage executioner’s drop on the base of the bowl. The bowl cracked, splitting nearly in half with a warbling metallic peal that sounded to Byron both too loud and too much like a shriek. Byron hammered the bowl with the axe again, the blade slicing into the side and shearing off a smaller fragment. The remainder of the damaged vessel skittered away across the floor.

The shoggoth’s entire body suddenly stiffened, then convulsed in paroxysms as it struggled to croak ‟Tekeli-li! TEKELI-LI!” over and over. The six lower legs merged together as they were absorbed into the central mass of the body, which tapered to a point like an inverted waterspout being drawn down an open drain. The shoggoth sprouted new tendrils of slick onyx that tried to latch onto any anchor point they could find, even as the creature’s body continued to warp and dwindle. Its eyeballs imploded, one by one, and then the shoggoth was abruptly gone, its otherworldly voice silenced.

Byron stumbled toward Jerrod, dropping to his knees beside him. He pulled Jerrod’s head onto his lap, stroking the hair away from Jerrod’s forehead. Jerrod’s eyelids twitched, opened.

‟What happened?”

‟It’s gone,” Byron answered.

‟You killed it?”

‟It’s gone,” Byron repeated. ‟And I don’t think it’ll be back. Are you all right?”

‟I’m banged up, but I don’t think anything’s broken,” Jerrod said. ‟Except for most of our stuff. Cleaning up this disaster might be what ends up breaking my back.”

‟I’ll give you a hand,” Byron offered. ‟If you let me take you out for dinner after.”

Jerrod smiled, with a knowing look that promised more than a shared meal.

‟I’d like that.”

They collected everything with blood or ichor soaked into it and stuffed it into the forges to burn. The salvageable items were gathered and stacked or righted in their proper positions around the room.

The local all-night diner they visited afterwards had homemade fried chicken and biscuits, and they were delicious. Jerrod and Byron ate enough to make life feel worth living even after the worst day imaginable, overstuffing their bellies in the hopes that food comas would make their sleep dream-free, and keep away nightmares of slavering fangs and tentacles and hideous profusions of eyes. But just to be on the safe side, when Jerrod and Byron went to bed that night, they went together.

Originally published in the anthology Eldritch Embraces, released by Dragon’s Roost Press in March, 2016

1 Comment

1 Comment on "The Lengths that He Would Go To"

I really liked this story. The narrator’s voice felt real and I was drawn into it right from the start. The build-up also paid off in an action-filled climax. Well done!

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About the Author

Dale W. Glaser

DALE W. GLASER is a collector, re-teller and occasional inventor of fantasy tales. His lifelong love of written words has manifested as devotion to the English language almost exclusively, which is probably just as well because were he to master any of the dead tongues that conceal ancient and malevolent mysteries, we'd all be in trouble. His short stories have appeared in magazines including Weirdbook, Trysts of Fate, and Electric Spec, and anthologies including Final Masquerade, Eldritch Embraces and Pirates Vs. Monsters. He lives in Virginia with his wife and three children.

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