Sunday, 24 May 2020

Book Spotlight: Dark Divinations

Today I have for you a real treat with a spotlight for the new supernatural anthology, Dark Divinations recently released by HorrorAddicts.net Press. Enjoy.





Dark Divinations (edited by Naching T. Kassa)






It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in the gas-lit streets, while in the parlor, hands are linked. Pale and expectant faces gaze upon a woman, her eyes closed and shoulders slumped. The medium speaks, her tone hollow and inhuman. The séance has begun.

Can the reading of tea leaves influence the future? Can dreams keep a soldier from death in the Crimea? Can a pocket watch foretell a deadly family curse? From entrail reading and fortune-telling machines to prophetic spiders and voodoo spells, sometimes the future is better left unknown.

Choose your fate.
Choose your Dark Divination.






**********

An excerpt from Dark Divinations

The Moat House Cob

Alan Fisher
Tower of London, 1887


I had earned the position of Her Majesty’s Keeper of Wise Animals after a priest witnessed my unfortunate encounter with a foul-mouthed and heretical black goose along the Thames. He reported me to the Lawless Assizes which gave me a simple choice: burn at the stake for witchcraft or turn my talents to the service of the Queen. I, not unwisely, chose the latter. My crimes against the proper way of things would be held in abeyance until I died a natural death or the Assizes decided to end me in flames. The goose—not given such a chance—was burned, squawking out dire curses on all and sundry.
The wise animals were kept in a smallish room at the top of a corner battlement at the Tower of London, except for the Prophetory Raven, who had the run of the entire Tower, like the rest of his wing-clipped fellows. It was escorted to the room each morning by the Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster, where it would spend the day uselessly pecking grubs off a map of the Empire so I could note which grub it went after first. For the past five years, it had favored the flavor of the grubs inhabiting the vastness of the open Pacific, where little of note had happened, or would happen.
Useless, the Prophetory Raven. Useless, the Revelation Mice of Cambridge. Useless, the mad parrot that had once been owned by John Dee and only squawked Enochian riddles, a language I had sadly not been taught at Balliol. Useless, Her Majesty’s Keeper of Wise Animals, but still I walked up the dank stairs every day. Every day I recorded anything the wise animals might reveal and every day I fed them and slopped their shite out into the courtyard and every evening I fled back to my room at the base of the tower.
All in all, still better than being burned alive.
The wise animals were so considered because they had foretold the future, at least once. In most cases, only once. But they were collected, some of them having lived long beyond their years. Dee’s Parrot was in its third century, if indeed it was the same bird that had warned Queen Elizabeth of the coming Armada. The Prophetory Raven was at least two decades beyond the ordinary life of its fellows and was famed in a very small circle for screaming ceaselessly on two seperate days that madmen tried to shoot our Queen Victoria. It was otherwise silent. The six Revelation Mice, who got into ink whilst scurrying about the University Library of Cambridge and left in their tiny footprints an obituary for Prince Albert two weeks before his death, had never written anything again. I should know. I had to apply ink to the feet of the little bastards every evening before setting them loose on a large sheet of white paper. Every morning, I threw out the ink-smeared paper that had no more wisdom on it than the droppings they left.
But then there was the spider. The Moat House Cob was big as my splayed out hand and dark as pitch, except for orange lines crossing its back. Or abdomen, as a spider-fancier once told me it was called. Seemed as if every day the lines were different. It had been found with a witch around 1750. According to the tale, it crawled from her clothes as the flames took her and nearly escaped. An alert executioner trapped it in a goblet. Left in a box for examination, it wove the name of its captor’s son into its web overnight. That day, the boy died of a spider’s bite. The story got to the Lawless Assizes quickly enough and the Moat House Cob was one of the first wise animals brought to the Tower, preceded only by Dee’s Parrot and a stoat that could predict storms at sea but passed away in 1709.
The Moat House Cob was not useless. It was placed in a wide flat glass box, with a map of the world pasted against the back of it. It was my charge—as much as humoring the parrot and inking the feet of the mice—to record where it wove a web. It always wove one, every night, somewhere on the map. I took note of the location in the Ledger of Wise Animals, a series of tomes which went back to Dee’s Parrot first asking for a biscuit in Enochian. The majority of the time, the web’s location meant nothing. After making my notes, I would open the top of the cage—after I made sure the Cob was near the bottom and far from me, which it always was—and wipe away the web.


To read more of this story, and the other great tales, go to Amazon.com or order the special edition, signed copy with hand-painted tarot cards at HorrorAddicts.net



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