Blood and Rust

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The ongoing and increasingly fragmented narrative of a cannibal clan existing in the forests of British Columbia and engaging in dark worship of the monster god Ithaqua/Itakwa.

Existential backwoods sleaze inspired by exploitation cinema and French pornosophy, early Cormac McCarthy (Outer Dark, Child of God…), gothic and splatterpunk horror, the dregs of Lovecraftian fiction and accelerating capitalism, medieval mysticism and its modern Pentecostal equivalent, and whatever other obsessions the ARTUSans want to bring to the project.

Originally conceived of by Brendan McCarthy as an experiment in what he called Open-Source Horror: a mythos in which anybody could theoretically contribute — a mythos stitched together from bloody fragments where nobody knows the real truth about what may or may not have happened. The McCoils have made sure of that. We want the backwoods-exploitation genre equivalent of a cubist painting: seeing an incomplete picture from a variety of incomplete and horrifying angles.

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Sights Unseen
A McCoil Fragment by Inara Cauldwell

Lisa screamed as she fell to the forest floor, not understanding what had just happened, neither the searing pain nor why she had lost her balance so unexpectedly. It was dusk, yes, but she was a skilled and agile hiker, and no stranger to mountain trails such as this one in the North Cascades. She reached down to massage her throbbing ankle, and screamed again as she realized that her left foot was missing, crudely severed by what could only be a bear trap, lying on the trail beside her in a pile of leaves. Deliriously, she began to feel outrage in place of the pain that shock had now numbed, and she railed loudly against trapping, which had been outlawed in these woods for decades. 

Just as her energy and anger were flagging, the shock began to wear off and unbearable pain returned. She no longer had the strength to scream, so she settled into a quiet sobbing as she tried to use the lace from the boot on her severed foot to craft a tourniquet. Slowly, she began to hear furtive scratching noises along the forest floor as some creature approached. She worked faster, completing the knot and then trying to raise herself to stand using a sapling at the trail’s edge. Just as she had a good hold, she felt a hand on her shoulder push her back down to the ground, and heard a disquietingly frail and scratchy voice from just behind her: “M’ Sight’s gettin’ worse … I didn’t See ye comin’ fer another few hours. Good thing I got things ready early t’ be sure.”

Lisa looked up with hope, babbling “Oh, thank god you found me! I need a doctor – someone … someone set a bear trap! Can you help …” The words died in her throat at the sight of the ancient crone standing over her, wearing a patch over each eye. Her silence changed to renewed screams as the woman lit a match and lifted it to an old cheroot that hung from her lips, for she saw that there were no patches, just wrinkled, leathery skin where eyes and eyelids should be. “Oh, ye mistake me, hon, and there’s nought can help ye now. M’ kin are comin’ t’ fetch me down t’ th’ lowlands in a day’s time ‘r so. I Seen it. That’s why I was gettin’ ready fer ye t’ come along this path.”

“Wh … who are you?” Lisa stammered. She saw the old woman smile, and heard her say, as if from a far distance, “M’ name don’t matter … I lost it long ago. And ye won’t have need of names where yer goin’ anyway … but fer this last second ‘r two, ye can think of me as Gran McCoil, if a name gives ye any small comfort.” Lisa was just about to ask another question when she experienced the last things she was ever to see and hear: a skeletal but surprisingly swift and sure arm swinging a razor-sharp sickle toward her throat, and Gran McCoil cackling “It’s a potluck, ye see, and I’m t’ bring th’ roast!”

Submissions Welcome

We want you to help us expand the epic story of the McCoil clan. We are therefore accepting submissions for stories set in our rotting fictional universe.

Your stories MUST contain:

  1. The McCoil family as primary or peripheral characters.
  2. The BC setting.
  3. Worship of the Ithaqua/Itakwa god.

Specific details and continuity are highly variable and that is what we want — multiple conflicting versions like variations on rumors and legends. Our continuity will emerge from our intentional discontinuity.

We accept the stories we like the most, the stories we feel add the greatest depth to the story, characters, setting and themes of our dark narrative.

Send submissions to artusent@gmail.com under the heading SUBMISSION: BLOOD & RUST.

We look forward to the horrors you can send us.

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