The Shadow Over America

I recently submitted a short story to an new collection with a most intriguing premise: to write a prequel or sequel to one of HP Lovecraft’s tales.

Ancestors and Descendants is the result, edited by the estimable Rob Poynton and published by Innsmouth Gold, featuring 17 tales which either foreshadow or follow on from some HP Lovecraft’s most famous works and it releases in paperback and ebook formats on November 17th.

My author copy arrived the other day and although I’ve only read one other story prior to publication, the excellent Bad Dream by my old friend, Chris Halliday, I’m really looking forward to tucking into the rest of these tales which explore adjuncts to The Dunwich Horror, The Colour Out of Space and Pickman’s model.

I chose The Shadow Over Innsmouth, probably my favourite HPL story as my tale and decided to write a sequel, exploring the subsequent events to that infamous raid in the winter of ’28.

What happened to all the surviving inhabitants of the Innsmouth raid? Where were they kept, what did the government do with them? Where would they be five years after that fateful night in that sinister New England town?

The result is The Shadow Over America, a story set in Camp X-Ray, a US government internment facility deep in the American backwoods where the Innsmouth inhabitants are now kept firmly under lock and key.

Despite its brilliance, certain readings of the original Shadow Over Innsmouth give it a troubling subtext, so I wanted to update it, swing things around and reclaim it for a modern audience and reflect some of the themes and issues happening right now, in the early 21st Century, the machinations of deep government and how people perceive and treat the ‘other’ – and the possible dire consequences of what happens when they do.

How successful it is, I’ll leave it for you to judge, but I hope I’ve managed to expand on the original and offer a new and interesting take on the tale. It was certainly a fascinating and challenging story to write, but one I’m quite pleased with. I’ve included the introduction just to whet your appetite and I’d urge you to go check out the rest of the collection too, there looks to be some really excellent stories for Lovecraft fans therein.

The Shadow Over America

“Welcome to Camp X-Ray” proclaims the sign, although there’s nothing particularly welcoming about it, a fact reinforced by the warning underneath which reads, “Hitchhikers you encounter may be escapees. Any person assisting an escaped prisoner will be shot.”

To call this place remote is to do the term a disservice, for this internment camp of wood and wire, watchtowers and electric fences is so far removed from civilised society, it might as well be on the far side of the moon. This is the genuine American backwoods, not much around these parts except a spread of mountains, the big lake down in the valley and the endless trees. It’s far away from the saltwater the inhabitants crave and concealed from prying eyes and curious pens.

REDACTED the nearest town, if you can call that dusty ville a town,  is twenty miles as the crow flies but even when you turn off the REDACTED highway you still have ten miles of steep mountain roads to climb. Hell, they say they had to bulldoze the last five miles clean through the trees when they originally built this place, driving through primordial woods that hadn’t seen a human being since we dressed in skins and warred with flint axes and spears.

Not exactly a prime posting for an ambitious agent, but you don’t get to pick and choose where you serve. As to how I came to be in this godforsaken wilderness, well, that was a direct result of the Innsmouth raid in February ’28. It still makes me shudder to think of it. I’d only had my badge six months and was greener than a crab apple when one quiet Wednesday afternoon Lieutenant Blake strode into the office and said, “Lake, pack your gun, and draw some additional ammunition, we’re going on a little jaunt to the seaside.” The briefing beforehand came from a certain Robert Olmstead who’d been chased out of that accursed town a while earlier and his testimony sounded like something you’d read in Weird Tales. But even his dire warnings couldn’t prepare us for what was waiting down in the tunnels that riddled Innsmouth like a rotten honeycomb.

Continues in Ancestors and Descendants

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