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The Dead Lettersby Tom Piccirilli
Synopses & Reviews
Words are not as adequate as teeth.
Incisors are incapable of lying. If I pressed them into wax or paper or fish or flesh you would know my meaning, the constraints of form, and every trivial fact there is to be found, distinguished in its context, beyond the obvious. Words are deficient, even impractical, when attempting to convey the substance of true (modest) self. Deed is definition. We are restricted by mind and voice but not in action, wouldn't you agree? That we can never completely express that which is within. That sometimes the very act of feeling isn't enough to encompass all there is to feel. Frenzy is trying to explain your behaviors to yourself. I suspect I have yet a long way to go at the art of becoming human.
Remember Schlagelford's great treatise on the fear of non-existence. He spent some thirty-seven years of his adult life with his left hand clamped to his left thigh (trouserless, of course). Despite his grip cutting off all circulation in that leg until it withered, blackened, and eventually had to be amputated (and the hand, no more than a frozen talon, had grown useless, and continued to squeeze the phantom limb), at which point he gripped his right thigh with his right hand and had to write his last major work, The Season of Femoral, with quill champed between adequate teeth, still he was content.
Satisfied in his knowledge of personal existence in a world without enough promise or structure.
Do you ever feel that way, Whitt?
There are orange sneakers on the gelded man in the corner.
Which do you prefer? Writing or biting?
The season of femoral begins again.
Do your hands shake?
The mama cultist told Eddie Whitt about the dead ballerina, a god named Mucus-Thorn-In-Brain, and the starving baby that had been stolen out of the back room.
She and her two lumbering middle-aged sons smiled at him. Whitt tried to smile back but the muscles in his jaw were so tight that he barely managed a grimace. It got like that sometimes, when he was forced to hold himself in check. Luckily these people were so caught up in their own mania that they hardly even noticed him while they prattled on incessantly. They gave him a cup of herbal tea that smelled like turpentine and he left it on the scratched table in front of him.
Except for the murders, they were about the same as any other cult members he'd met. Considering his narrow range of interests and social obligations, he'd actually met more than his share. Whatever the hell a man's share of cultists should be in this world.
The woman, Mrs. Prott, who introduced herself as the High Priestess of the Cosmic Knot, spoke with near-hysterical excitement about a new god being born in the back of her son Merwin's heart. Merwin, who had awful surgical scars covering his forehead, grinned stupidly and petted his chest like he was stroking a luscious woman's hair.
The other son, Franklin, was blind and kept flexing his hands like he wanted to leap out of his chair and tear something to pieces.
Whitt feigned interest in Mrs. Prott's sermon and looked at her star charts, notes, magazine articles, and photographs of the multitude of people who played some role in her ever-widening tale of religion, murder, and secret government experiments. She kept tapping a spot between her eyes, saying they'd shot her there and herbrain had leaked out, which was why she sometimes got mixed up. Whenever she said the word government, Merwin would stop stroking his invisible lover's hair and thump his head.
This house had been the dumping ground for members of the group for years. Whitt got up and wandered around while the woman talked, rifling through stacks of newspapers dating back three, four years. He saw himself on the front page of more than one, laid out mostly in the open, as if waiting for him.
A metal sh
Five years after Eddie Whitt's daughter Sarah had fallen victim to a serial killer known as Killjoy, Eddie is still trying to hunt him down, following an eerie trail to taunting letters to a deadly cult--and hopefully closer to his prey--but his quest is complicated by dark forces that rise around him, tormenting him with a series of inexplicable events. Original.
Five years after Eddie Whitt's daughter was murdered by the serial killer known as Killjoy, Eddie continues to hunt him down, following an eerie trail to a deadly cult, but his quest is complicated by dark forces that torment him with inexplicable events.
About the Author
TOM PICCIRILLI is the author of fourteen novels, including A Choir of Ill Children, November Mourns, and Headstone City, all available from Bantam Spectra. He has been a World Fantasy Award finalist and a four-time Bram Stoker Award winner. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
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