Tag Archives: demons

Demons and Monsters

The island of Hopeless, Maine has more than its fair share of unusual life-forms. While you might find a certain amount of pleasure in spotting a gentle flock of Gnii, weaving through the night sky, there is little joy to be derived from an encounter with most of the island’s other fauna, or indeed, flora. Not all of the more exotic entities mentioned in the Tales from the Squid and Teapot, however, are indigenous to Hopeless. Indeed, over the years the tales have revealed a surprising amount of creatures, generally believed to exist only in mythology and folklore, to have found their way to the island. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to revisit a few.

Tucked away, high on a shelf behind the bar of The Squid and Teapot, Bartholomew Middlestreet keeps an old, leather-bound journal detailing the visits of these demons and monsters. These accounts have obviously been recorded by several different hands, the years having faded some of the ink to sepia. Fortunately there are plenty of blank pages left for any new arrival to be noted, for the island seems to be a draw for the various weird, but not-particularly wonderful, denizens of earth, sea and sky. Bartholomew has mentioned on several occasions that is a great pity that the journal, unlike the tales, does not benefit from the splendid illustrations supplied by Mr Tom Brown and Mr Clifford Cumber.

Aboo-dom-k’n
Sir Fromebridge Whitminster was eaten by a juvenile aboo-dom-k’n, as was mentioned in his Obituary, and more recently, in the tale The Man in Grey.
Aboo-dom-k’n, also known as Apotamkin, features in the legends of the Maliseet and Passamaquoddy people. It is generally described as being a giant fanged sea-serpent with long red hair, given to lurking in the Passamaquoddy Bay, with the intention of dragging the unwary into the water and eating them.

Manchachicoj
In the tale ‘The Stowaway’ a strange, hideous half-blood demon is brought to the island from Buenos Aires, on a ship called the Annie C Maguire. Manchachicoj hails from the Northwest region of Argentina and was described as being small and deformed, but also seductive, elegant and romantic, which probably explains how he was able to mate with various mermaids and produce some extremely ugly progeny. Manchachicoj’s escape from the Annie C Maguire caused her to capsize when she struck the ledge at Portland Head Light, on Christmas Eve 1886. If you don’t believe me, look it up!

Pamola
According to the Penobscot people, Pamola is a bird-spirit who inhabits Katahdin, the tallest Mountain in Maine, and is apparently responsible for making cold weather.
He is usually described as having the head of a moose, the body of a man and the wings and feet of an eagle.
In the tale that bears his name, Pamola takes the simpler form of a huge bird of prey, having previously been created from bits of vegetables cooked up in an ancient Welsh cauldron, as told in the tale The Unquiet Gravy.

Buer
Buer is a most fearsome-looking demon. He has no body, as such, but has a lion’s head, from which radiate five hairy goat legs, which give him the ability to move in all directions. He features in the tale Bog Oak and Brass, where you will find a wonderful, not to say terrifying, depiction of him. He also makes a brief guest appearance towards the end of Baking Bad.
In the 16th century grimoire, Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (which means the False Monarchy of Demons), Buer is described as a Great President of Hell, with fifty legions of demons under his command. He usually appears when the sun is in Sagittarius. Editions of this book are still available to purchase, both in paperback and hardback, should you be interested!

Selkie
While neither demons nor monsters, at least as far as I am aware, seal, or selkie, folk are certainly as strange as any that you might wish to find. Originating in the folklore of the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Faroes and Iceland, the diaspora of the inhabitants of those islands took their legends across the Atlantic with them, rendering the coast of Maine rich with stories of the seal people. The most common theme is that of a man taking, and eventually losing, a seal wife for whom the lure of the sea is too great to ignore.
In the early Tales of the Squid and Teapot, we meet with the eponymous Betty Butterow, who learns, at the age of fifteen, of her selkie heritage. Betty features in many later tales, and a prequel, called People from the Sea, hints at her origins.

The Wendigo
A malevolent, flesh-eating spirit found in the folklore of the First Nations, the Wendigo found its way to Hopeless, Maine following the Passamaquoddy trader, Joseph Dreaming-By-The-River-Where-The-Shining-Salmon-Springs. In the tale, simply entitled The W-ndigo, young Randall Middlestreet, the most famous Night-Soil Man (due to the fact that, to date, he is the only one to retire and raise a family) finds himself promoted from his role as an apprentice in a most bloodthirsty and traumatic manner. The W-ndigo has been described as resembling a gaunt skeleton, recently disinterred from the grave, and giving off the odour of death and corruption. The illustration accompanying the tale is the stuff of nightmares. (Also, it is best not to name them so as not to draw their attention)

Kraken
A huge creature of cephalopod-like appearance, the Kraken first appears in Scandinavian legends as a sea-monster lurking in the waters off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. Stories of the Kraken travelled across the North Atlantic with the Vikings, and later sailors from the Nordic countries. We first catch sight of this awesome creature in the less-than-likely setting of a cricket match. Unsurprisingly, the tale is called Cricket!

Voices in her head

The island is full of demons. The ones you can see are in many ways easier to deal with because they are outside of your head and you have some reason to think they aren’t you.

The whisperers are the worst. The demons who slide in as thoughts, and tell you that they are your own voice. The demons who say that you are just like them, that you come from the place all demons come from. You are made of demon. Your essence is monstrous. Everything you do is suspect.

The demons tell you not to trust yourself. Sometimes they are the voice of your mother, who was clear that she regretted your existence. She would have killed you if she could. She killed your brother. You are worthless, useless, a disappointment, she says. 

Sometimes the demons remind you that you did not save your brother’s life. What good are you? What point is there in you even existing? You fail, and fail again. When it most matters, you fail.

Where does that magic come from? You don’t know. The demons in your head tell you that magic is tainted, dangerous, and theirs. You are theirs. You are just like them. Only you are weak and fearful. That’s why you couldn’t save Sophie Davies, why you had to disappoint your best friend and let him break his heart over his mother dying. You were too weak to save her. Too afraid to really use your power. 

In your heart, you know you are evil and that if you aren’t very careful then you will do something awful. Poor Salamandra. Are you saying this to yourself now, or are the demons saying it to you? Poor you. Poor little you. 

Remember me? 

The one voice that never goes away. Oh, sure, you can lock me in a box, but I’m still in your head and you will always remember me as a little girl with big, tearful eyes, begging you for mercy. I’m here to make sure you never forget that you are the real monster.

I was you all along. I’m still you.

(Art by Dr Abbey, text by Nimue)

Mirco “SteamTinkerer” Sadrinna has been remade

By Frampton Jones

There are some people whose lives you watch with a feeling of morbid unease. Mirco was one such – a tinkerer by nature whose fondness for messing about with devices seemed likely to prove fatal. The risk of attracting a demon into a warm, comfortable device is one I wish more people would take seriously. But, I shall not use Mirco’s untimely death as a reason to lecture on the dangers of demonic infestations.

Not least because I am fairly certain demons were not to blame on this occasion.

In recent weeks, Mirco’s workshop had ever more figures in it. I’ve been seeing more of these little figures around town for a while now – at first I thought they were amusing sculptures made of rubbish. Then, having seen a few of them move, I assumed them to be clever automata. Now, I am unsure and uneasy. Those figures, with their vegetable and bucket heads, their whimsical anatomies do not seem so innocent now.

Mirco was found propped outside the workshop, having been reassembled to resemble one of these creatures. I am no longer sure what to call them. Where Mirco’s actual head went, no one knows. About half of the available body parts are missing, according to Doc Willoughby. All of the automata, sculptures, creatures… whatever they were, they have all gone. Not a one remains in the workshop, and I have not seen one about town for a few days. I am afraid we will start finding parts of Mirco in other assemblies of parts made to resemble a person.

Reverend Davies will be performing the funeral rites for a percentage of a person, where the unburied parts are assumed to have taken on some kind of unwholesome second life. It will be an unsettling service, these forms always are, but we can hope it will bring some relief to the departed.

Let Amanda Rieth be a warning to us all

By Frampton Jones

 

It feels like every year now I have to write the same reminder. Most demons do not like the cold. When the temperature drops, demons seek warm places to roost. This may seem endearing when the demon looks mostly like a cat and alternates between purring and trying to eat your soul. Less so when the demon is only trying to eat your soul and has infested some part of your household.

This is your sadly regular reminder to check warm places for signs of demon activity, and be ready to flee if there are eyes where no eyes have been before.

Being new to the island, of course Amanda Reith knew nothing of this. She went ahead and moved into the shattered remains of Herr Doktor’s lab at just the moment when we were all feeling the awkwardness of not having a proper scientist of morally suspect intent at work in our community. And like several of our previous scientists, she made the fatal mistake of not allowing for demons. It’s all well and good being clever and rational, and not wanting to dabble with superstitions, but let me remind newcomers, our superstitions are exceedingly well founded.

Amanda Reith’s experiments glowed, steamed and bubbled into the night. Some of us tried to warn her. We said ‘you’ll attract demons’ but she laughed and said she was a woman of science and that she had no truck with demons.  It’s not usually the science that excites them, but the heat.  In the normal scheme of things, a lab, kitchen or workshop is unlikely to attract more than one demon at a time – they seem to be territorial. For some reason, whatever Amanda was up to, the demons found it intensely attractive. Who amongst us did not see their alarming forms peering from the windows at night?

And being used to such things, we all made the entirely sensible choice not to get further involved. Community spirit only goes so far, and it does not go into demon infested laboratories.  Of course, get that many demons into one place, and conflict is inevitable.

We could, in all fairness have been much more supportive when Amanda finally emerged, screaming with all the horror we are used to witnessing when people encounter demons. We could have been more sympathetic and less willing to go ‘I told you so’  and it probably wasn’t tactful to have a cake stall and a hot pie stand as the lab did what labs seem to do best here, and exploded behind her. I don’t know that it would have saved her life, but perhaps we should have tried. It was a horrible way to go.