Category Archives: Hopeless inhabitants

Daphne finds the Mirror

There was a door at the back of the morgue Daphne had never opened before. That day she opened it she found herself staring down a cold dank passage that seemed sunk in the earth. She’d never been afraid of the dark. The morgue was a gloomy place and even outside it the daylight was reluctant to go beyond the same washed out layers of grey. Daphne knew the dark was her friend, but this dark beyond in the dank passage she could sense was not her friend. But she’d opened the door now. Down she trod sometimes looking behind herself to see the vague greyish outline of the doorway becoming more and more distant. The passage was cold with a kind of suffocating deathliness. Daphne came into a chamber at the end. Up in its walls were small slits in the stone letting in meagre light, but enough to see the great stone plinth in the middle of the chamber upon which lay a wooden box. Who put this down here? She thought as she looked at the wooden box. As her fingers went over its surface she had the strange feeling that it was carved with uncanny signs and sigils that slithered and scarred its grain. Daphne thought they were probably like those funny old markings she saw in other places in the morgue and sometimes outside. In the air at that moment she heard demonic whisperings and sibilant imprecations as if they were telling her to put the wooden box down. She told them firmly to mind their own business; this was her morgue and not theirs. When she opened the box she found wrapped up in musty corpse-cold silk a peculiar object. After a moment of holding it by its carved ivory handle that was attached to its roughly oval flattened head she realised what it was: a looking glass or mirror like she’d seen once at a fancy shop down in the town.

But what was a mirror doing hidden away like this? More demonic susurrations flurried about her though this time they were threatening not annoying. They tugged at her hair and clawed at her shabby dress. Daphne had enough of this. Wrapping the mirror up in its silk she walked out the chamber, and carried on until she was at the door again. When she’d shut that heavy stiff hinged door she stood there catching her breath and listening to her heart beating. She looked at the mirror again. Her hands ran over its face and then knew it was like a frozen lake of ice that reflected no light only swallowed it endlessly into its black abyss. No use to her though, what would she need this bauble for? There was something about the mirror though that seemed to be tugging at the cracks of her soul. The more she held it the perfection and flawlessness of its design seemed to get at her. Daphne frowned feeling that if this was a person they were not welcome any longer to stay in her morgue.

‘This is my morgue do you hear?’ she said aloud, though of course she realised the mirror didn’t hear because it was a mirror. Or at least it seemed so.

To make this clear she walked to the morgue doors and pulled one ajar. Outside she looked at the mirror again. A wan shaft of light caught on its yellowed ivory handle and mirthlessly showed the crooked undecipherable signs cut into it by a long forgotten and heathen hand. Daphne looked into the mirror as out of its ice-bound crevasse a strange flickering grew like a lonely candle coming closer and closer. She found herself gazing not at her reflection but of another girl with sparkling blue eyes, skin white enough to be almost bluish, sharp cheek bones and yellow hair. In that moment Daphne understood what the demons had been trying to tell her: But too late. She felt a sudden cold searing flash of pain in her hand holding the mirror. The blue eyed and yellow haired girl smiled. Then her face was gone. Daphne dropped the mirror on the ground and ran back inside the morgue.

‘Thank you for setting me free again you are very kind, do you want to freeze the world with me forever and forever in the fimbulwinter?’ the girl was there smiling and smiling.

Written by Robin Collins
Art by Tom Brown
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Tales of the Sinimus

Hello people! (and others)

Last week we asked you to help choose the name of this wee sleekit (probably not timorous or cowering) beastie, and you have come through for us. It is scientifically known as a Sinimus, and commonly known as a Puddle Rat. Then I went on the social media ether and asked you for tales and anecdotes regarding the most recently discovered fauna of the island. You came through yet again. Or, at least these people did! There may be more tales of the Simus to come, so watch this space…

 

“The Sinimus, or rather hosts of the little blighters, are the bane of bakers across Hopeless, Maine. They have a tendency toward scones, you see. They don’t just eat them, but gnaw them hollow from the underside and then wear them like shells. Due to their teeny feet and scratchy nails, many a Hopeless baker has woken in the night to the sound of enthused scratching only to enter their kitchen to the sight of a host of scuttling scones by candlelight. For Hopeless, inanimate objects becoming anything but is a relatively normal occurrence. But there’s something about the way the scones chitter that makes them truly disturbing.”

Craig Hallam

“They’s fast; I seen one race down a weasel, eviscerate it with one kick o them clawfoots, then drag th’ twitchin’ carcass back ta its den, fulla blind, hairless, and carnivorous spawn. Their sharp li’l teeths makes short work of a body, leavin’ behind nuthin but fur, feathers, an mebbe gizzard-stones. If the stayed small, it wouldn’t be such a thing…but my ole Gram told me bout some what gets biggah an biggah. An ole bull Puddle Rat’s clawfoots can take a badger, ole boar coon, dog…er child. They done a big stermination on em, back in ’69. Some fellers got a little excited an used dynamite an a home-made flame-throwah fashioned out of an ole Indian tank, burnt down two houses, a toolshid, the Mayah’s cah, an Gino’s Pettin Zoo. No great loss, cos all he had was some chickens, an incontinent three-legged sheep, and somethin’ he called “Gordie Th Whatzit”, ayuh. Was able to salvage enough roast chicken an mutton foah a BBQ but Gordie? Ole Gordie dissapeahed.

Huh? Oh, yeah, they wasn’t to many confirmed Puddle Rats kilt, but they mostly stayed outta sight after that. Ain’t seen one in yeeahs.”

Cardiff Piltdown

Ever seen their mating ritual: The Scone Dance?

Attenborough tried but the footage wasn’t usable, distorted by arcane symbols.”

Anth Hodson-Curran

 

Upon seeing a puddle rat.

Beneath the leaden sky

I sat to take in the cool Hopeless evening

The waves whispered

The air was still

Vainly I tried to draw the stillness within

Something stirred.

A puddle rat

Ears twitching and alert, nose sniffing the air

Long shanked and nimble

It watched me

Reared on its hind legs, tail swishing

Its eyes gleamed

Such natural candour

That cares nothing for form or outward appearing

A mirror to my soul

In your dark eye

Writhe unquiet spirits in constant turmoil

My long denied demons

And for your dark eye

That sees true and shows unguardedly its seeing

People call you wicked.–

Jim Snee

 

The nameless beastie

Hello people! (and others)

We have come to a terrible realization, which is to say, the island of Hopeless, Maine has no sinister mice (or similar). They find their way into nearly everything else Nimue has written and now that this terrible flaw, this gaping void (as it were) has been revealed to us, it must be rectified. Therefore- I drew this little chap on Monday and posted it around on social media and asked for what we might call it.

You all did not disappoint us, and gave many suggestions. We are now throwing the decision back to you, using this cunning poll thingie. The name with the most votes will be the species name for the nameless beastie. Here we go…

Next week, we will be asking you all for tales regarding this, as yet nameless thing!

 

Hoping as always this finds you well, inspired and thriving.

 

 

Hopeless, Maine-sister communities

Hopeless, Maine can be a lonely sort of place.

Over time it has become cut off from the rest of the world and is beset with all manner of dire circumstance. (and there is no actual coffee, or, for that matter, tea) It may be a comfort for us to know that Hopeless has sister communities around the world. These are places that have similar problems, challenges and all manner of strangeness. It may be a comfort to us, but the residents of the island remain unaware of their counterparts. (and can not import actual coffee)

This first sister community is very closely related indeed, and the first that we discovered. I am speaking of Ragged Isle, the award-winning web series produced by Barry Dodd and company. It takes place on an island off the coast of Maine. They found us online in the early days and we are great friends and admirers. In fact, one panel of the graphic novel pictures a boy reading a book called “Ragged Isle” and there is a scene in the web series that shows a book called “Hopeless, Maine” Also- we are in the credits! The whole series can (and should!) be watched from beginning to end here. (and you will not have to endure the cliffhangers like we did when it was being produced) Additionally, Erik Moody (Deputy Dan, in the series) appears in a series of two page spreads in the next volume of Hopeless, Maine.

The next is Tantamount, which is being blogged by Meredith Debbonaire. (We are a great fan of her writing and she has contributed one of our favorite pieces to the Hopeless, Vendetta and has brought singing snails to the island.)  Tantamount, is another place where one can arrive, but it is difficult or impossible to leave. Also- it is strange and wonderful. Here is an example-

Headlines in Tantamount, January 1st
The Tantamount Herald
Surprise triumph of Heathens over Anglo-Saxon forces in History Battle: all time losses! Story on p2
Tantribune
Auspicious end to the year with ascendance of local choir, photos on p12
Oakshade Primary shock at first year in Battle: headteacher statement here!
The Tantamount Life
Journalist spots big cat on towpath – cat was wearing a cravat and bowler. Are cats no longer fashionable? p9″

You will now want to know more, and you can, by going here.

 

The last (and we are embarrassed to have just recently discovered it) is Night Vale. Night Vale can not be described, it must be experienced. (and we are well and truly hooked) You have probably known about it for years but if you are like us and needed direction, here they are. Go…here. (and for the love of all that is good, do not approach, look at, or even think about the dog park)

 

A note regarding the art here- this is a piece which will be the center bit of the cover art for the Hopeless, Maine RPG by Keith Healing, and also serve as The World card image for the impending Hopeless, Maine tarot deck which is by Laura Perry. We work with very cool people.

 

As always, I hope this finds you well, inspired, and thriving.

 

Messages in bottles

Hello, people (and others)!

Two days ago, I posted this image and asked our community (Via the electronic ether) what message they would put in a bottle on Hopeless, Maine. Here are the (bloody amazing, funny, wonderful) results of this.

Help me.

Please help me.

Our boat has sunk and I have washed up on some god forgotten land.

I know not of my crew, I hear their voices weeping in the dark dank fog that encompasses this shore but in the two weeks since I awoke on this crag I have seen or met none.

Maybe they are phantoms of the men that they once were, here to torment me until I succumb to the same fate that befell my crew mates.

Maybe they are like me, lost in the fog, waiting for the light to come.

There is an abundance of seaweed that I have come to rely on for sustenance. In my delusion I swear that the weed moves along the shoreline but when I am hungry it is always at my feet. Occasionally I will bite down on what can only feel is some kind of leech in my mouth but I swallow before I realise what I am eating.

I have screamed and screamed but nobody has come. I was beginning to think that this craggy isle was deserted but I swear to you and to the god I hold dear that I sometimes see flickering lights above me, like fires or torches at the top of the cliff. Waiting for me to perish.

I have tried to end my existence by just swimming out to sea and sticking to my doom but in my previous half dozen attempts, I have been gently pushed back to shore by what feels like the very weed that sustains me.

The fog is getting thicker. I have not seen my own skin in days. My breath feels wet.

I am hungry.

I still hear their voices.

Help me.

Please.
Simon La Thangue

Send underwear. Urgent!
Fraser Hale

Grandmother says a bottle will get you off this island better than any boat, though neither works for long. She means gin. It killed mother and Nelly but somehow all it does to Grandmother is pickle her. It makes her harder, more bitter, and helps her to forget where she is. Better to whisper down a well than try to get a message to the mainland, she says. She isn’t even certain there is a mainland any more.

But I‘m going to try anyhow. The sea scares me, and the fog. So I’m rolling this message up and putting in one of Grandmother’s empties. I will throw it into the waves in my stead. It may still smell of sloe gin.

We need … something new. Something solid and rooted to the ground. A window to the outside to let in new colours and a wind that will blow away all these ghosts. Hopeless has been left alone too long. It’s gone sour … it’s gone wrong … every angle too sharp or too open … all its truths undermined. We don’t need to leave, we just need the possibility of doing so. A bridge to the world. A way for what we’ve lost to come back.
If you find this [here damp has reduced the remaining message to a dark wash of ink swirls]
Mark Lawrence

Message in a bottle: Dear Tax, revenue and customs, my new address is Geezo’s Bight, Hopeless Maine, The Middle Of Nowhere. Good luck recovering the £3,000,000 I owe you for my (now bankrupt) hamster-wheel-powered taxi service. Take consolation from the fact that avoiding my liability is the only up-side of living here! Yours Faithfully etc etc.
Charles Cutting

SOS. Have run out of spoons. Pls send c/o Hopeless, Maine. P. S. No sporks. Thk u.
Clifford Cumber

Send Champagne, or failing that a small quantity of explosives. What cannot be sent directly can at least be obtained locally with the right tools.”
Stephen Mosley

This is Charles Oliver. An unseasonal wind has arisen and blown us far off course. Do not trust the Henstridge sisters, they be foul wyches.
Dickon Springate‏

OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE!!!

My Dearest

I am Nigerian Prince, King of Smallish island of Variable size, I seek you most trusted beloved for discreet partnership and Trade.

I hvae 1,000,000 pounds US stirling and strange-awful-betentacled things in jars, souls, human sacrifice. too exchange for goods, linens, building materiels, a good time, alcohol, armaments, particularly ones using fire, holy water.

Send supply-laden cargo ships! My address!

The Non-Functioning Lighthouse,
Spiked-Rock Shore,
Hull-Tearington,
Hopeless, Maine 666.

PS I have much monies!

Clifford Cumber

“Get in the bottle”, they said.
“It will be fun”, they said.
Now I lie in here, hopelessly stuck on the foggy shore of a forgotten island *sigh*…

Cynthia

I had to get out of there; I needed the quiet. Although, going from living in a town surrounded by people to being trapped in the middle of nowhere is quite the adjustment. For now, this place is my new home. This desolate island just between a sea of infinite darkness and the path from where I came. Pretty sure there’s a sea monster skulking around somewhere under the murky, green depths, too.

Not that I’m planning on going back.

Sabrina

To whomever finds this message, They won’t let me leave, I try and they won’t let me leave, The chattering is infernal Stay away, I beg of you, stay away. Capt Hubert , HMS Persephone
Adrian TrevelyanIn 1939 Mr Ross Parker and Mr Hughie Charles were walking along a beach on the south coast of England when they found a bottle containing the following message. After reading it the two gentlemen were inspired to dash off and write a song…

From J. Nailsworthy, Hopeless, Maine.
A whale was beached here a month ago and we’ve been living off it ever since. Here’s my lament:

Whale meat again,
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when
We might get fresh meat again before next May.
We’ll keep smiling through,
But we’d love Irish stew,
Or something cordon bleu,
Not whale-meat grey.

Martin Pearson


Cat Treadwell

Help! Please come rescue us! We’re mired on Tentacle Point – bring your ship straight in (the rocks aren’t nearly as dangerous as they look, I promise) and save us from the awful creatures here! We will dismemb be eternally grateful for your delici valuable aid.”
Laura Perry