The Order of the Eldritch Disciples
by P.S.Gifford
forum: The Order of the Eldritch Disciples
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Order of the Eldritch Disciples


       On a trip I took to England last year I, as you might imagine, spent a lot of time in antique shops in search for all things being uniquely English… Particularly old horror books and memorabilia. On one such adventure I found myself at the rather famous Portobello market in the quirky Notting Hill district of London. I spent the time idly perusing the various books, and actually purchased a delightful antique edition of The Bleak House by Charles Dickens, bound in some of the most magnificent leather I had ever seen. I was examining my prize and on my way to a nearby pub for some well deserved lunch when, just off the main market, on a quiet narrow street, I happened to notice a peculiar sight; a stall keeper who immediately caught my eye as he appeared to be about ninety years old, and dressed in one of those suits covered in buttons… The stall itself was nothing more than a rickety camping table, covered in an old moth bitten blanket, with a few various items placed on it. I had every intention of walking past the curious gentleman, as I had already spent more than I had budgeted for on my last purchase, and besides, the tantalizing notion of a pint of bitter and a steak and kidney pie was now dancing through my mind. However, as I proceeded to pass on by, he sharply and with impressive volume hollered out to me.

       "Hey, guv'nor, you dream of being a successful novelist, don't you?"

       Both amazed at his prophetic intuition and wary of a possible scam, I politely smiled at the old fellow as I cautiously began to approach him. I reasoned there might be some solid entertainment value in engaging in conversation with the oddball fellow—perhaps I might find some sort of inspiration for my new book, I considered, for at that time I had been experiencing writer's block for several months.

       His crabby expression morphed into a gregarious smile as I crossed the street to his stall.

       "Got your attention, didn't I, mate?" His cockney accent cracked, evident of a lifetime of smoking.

       "Apparently," I replied, humored, but still remaining vigilant.

       "I reckon I have gotten something that might interest you then," he cackled, revealing a mouth half full of rotting teeth.

       As I watched on with amusement, he, with exaggerated gesturing, seemingly vanished under the shabby faded blanket, presumably onto the cracked pavement below. Seconds later he popped up again and in his wrinkled, tobacco stained fingers he held a shoe-sized dilapidated wooden box.

       "I don't think so," I said and was about to turn around, figuring that nothing more than a sales pitch awaited me, and walk away. However, the charismatic gleam in his eyes intrigued me enough to continue farther along with the facade.

       "Okay, so what historical gems are in the box?" I questioned. "Perhaps the very last quill that Shakespeare ever used. Or, maybe, just maybe, Edgar Allen's Poe's solid silver moustache trimmer, that you have had in your possession since you were a small boy and now feel compelled to sell it to an unsuspecting American tourist? Or how about possibly even an unfinished manuscript penned by none other than H.G. Wells himself… that you will permit me to have for the bargain price of a few hundred pounds…Well, what is it?"

       He stared intensely at me with penetrating unblinking eyes that were a curious shade of green.

       "First, you must sincerely promise to me that you desire to be a horror writer more than anything else… And you are prepared to sacrifice your sanity to fulfill such lofty ambitions." The somber tone of his voice and the sudden remarkable transformation of his facial features should have frightened me away… I should, I am convinced, have turned and run… and had my lunch as I had intended—yet his mesmerizing gaze somehow only captured curiosity further.

       "I swear," I heard myself ominously saying, almost as if a stranger was speaking. "I swear."

       With that, he stood up and leaned in towards me and the insipid foulness of his body odor and breath made me gasp. However, as he unlocked the peculiar box and exposed its contents, I gasped for another far more ominous reason… The box clicked open to reveal a seeming thousand rays of light and each one seemingly penetrated deep within the darkest regions of my subconscious. I began to scream at the uncontrollable intense pain… Yet no-one paid me any attention. Was it possible that my screaming was only inside my own brain? As I trembled with agonies that I could never ever have imagined, I suddenly became aware that the elderly tradesman was actually laughing.

       He was not only laughing at my plight but he was deftly jigging from one foot to another. I somehow managed to regain some sense of reasoning and focused intently to his every word as tears flooded my anguished eyes.

       "To be a successful horror fiction writer, you need experiences, guv'nor. That box we just unleashed contained the tortured souls of ten thousand or more unfortunates. Each horrific atrocious memory has now been permanently etched deep within your psyche." Then in front of my eyes, just as I attempted to reach out and grab the fiend by the throat, he simply vanished. I swear it. There was no sign of the button man or of his stall.

       I sat on the curb and sobbed as the full dreadfulness of my fate presented itself. A chorus of a hundred deafening shrieks bellowed agonizingly from within my cranium. All at once however, despite my vivid torment, I abruptly envisioned a narrative so bursting with dread and misery the world had never seen. I hastily seized my pen and note paper from my pocket and I began to fervently write.

       And so that is how I came to write the international best seller—The Order of the Eldritch Disciples.



copyright 2006 P.S.Gifford.

P.S.Gifford is a quiet and reserved transplanted Englishman who has penned well over one hundred stories. Most recently his work can be found at He also has an aptly named wesite— which has gotten pretty darn fancy lately. Whilst perusing it you can, if you are so inclined, learn more about him that would be decent repeated in polite and respectable company.